August 14, 2011
Ten candidates are vying for a total of four open seats in next week's Democratic firehouse primary as voters prepare to cast their ballots for Charlottesville City Council and the clerk of circuit court.
With less than one week left, 10 Democratic candidates for public office made a final push at Forrest Hills Park in Charlottesville.
"It's more than we've had in recent years," said James Nix, co-chair of the Charlottesville Democrats.
Councilors Watch from Sidelines
City councilors not up for re-election say they're enjoying watching the primary race from the outside.
Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris and councilor Kristin Szakos are not in a primary race. The other three seats on city council are up for grabs.
Norris said he's proud to see a high number of candidates running in the primary because it shows how much interest there is in local politics.
"There might be ideas, even candidates that might not be successful in winning an election, may have ideas we might want to look at and implement," Norris said. "I love the fact that all these folks are out there engaging with voters."
Norris and Szakos are up for re-election in 2013. Councilors Holly Edwards and David Brown are not running for re-election, while councilor Satyendra Huja is among the seven contenders.
In all, there are seven Democratic candidates vying for three open seats on Charlottesville City Council. They are incumbent Satyendra Huja, Paul Beyer, Colette Blount, Brevy Cannon, Kathleen Galvin, James Halfaday and Dede Smith.
There are three people running for clerk of court: incumbent Paul Garrett, Llezelle Dugger and Pam Melampy.
"[The primary] allows us to ensure that every candidate that is nominated actually has the support of a majority of those casting ballots," Nix said.
At the primary, voters will rank all the candidates in the order they want them elected.
When it comes to tallying the votes, candidates will receive one vote for each of the top three rankings. Instructions will be on the back of the ballots.
Meet-and-greets like the one Sunday at Forrest Hills Park are important for candidates to get to know voters. Even a Democrat in a left-leaning city like Charlottesville isn't a shoo-in for public office.
"A majority of Charlottesville voters in recent years have been Democrats, so we have high hopes our nominees will be elected, but no assurance that they will," Nix said.
In the final days of getting to know candidates, Democratic leaders hope for a smooth election that could pave way for victory in November.
The firehouse primary will take place Saturday at Burley Elementary School from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Any registered voter can cast a ballot. For city residents not registered, it's not too late to fill out paperwork and vote in Saturday's primary.
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