Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Voters approve Council, School Board junket to Italy

Charlottesville, Va.—Yesterday voters approved a controversial trip to Tuscany, Italy, to visit sister city Poggio a Caiano. The stated purpose of the trip was to foster closer ties and develop a student exchange program. City schools do not offer Italian.

The trip began today, the day after election, for the reelected mayor David Brown, reelected School Board member Alvin Edwards (mayor 1988-1996), and city schools superintendent Rosa Atkins, after she said yesterday that she would not go.

Last week Alvin Edwards announced he would pay his own way. At Monday’s Council meeting, vice mayor Kendra Hamilton, who’s stepping down after one term, announced she would not go to Italy. She’s already visited the city at public expense in 2004. She seemed to say it’s not fair for people to complain about this junket when previous junkets have not been controversial.

Atkins’ assistant superintendent Gertrude Ivory was to accompany the group also. It was announced that an anonymous donor would pay for Ivory’s trip. That same donor will now pay Atkins’ way instead. Is it legal for an anonymous person to donate money to a public servant for the purpose of influencing a decision? That raises the question: how many anonymous donations were made to the political campaigns?

In the days leading up to election, Brown said he planned to go to Italy despite the controversy. He said missing six days of work was already a financial sacrifice. The three officials (Brown, Edwards, Atkins) have left for Europe as of this report. Hamilton and Ivory stay behind.

Urban renewal icon top vote-getter in 2007

The election made history for other reasons. City planner 1973-2004, an expert in the resettlement of seized lands and displaced populations with a Masters Degree from Michigan State University, Satyendra Huja was first in the general election with 62% of the 25% who voted, or 16% of registered voters. During the campaign, he touted his experience of getting things done.

The preliminary results were provided by Dreama Montrief of the Office of the Voter Registrar. At 25 cents a sheet, I paid $3 for the results. The office was not ready to release the more than 400 write-in votes. Rick Sincere of the Electoral Board commented on those write-ins in his blog post of 1am this morning. At lunch time, I could see Sincere through a window in the next office with Registrar Sheri Iachetta and others. I’ll attempt to access those public records again during lunch Thursday.

The write-ins are not available on the city’s official website but the numerical results are available.

Name ... Votes ... % (6,086 turnout, 23,506 registered voters)

City Council (3 elected for 5-member council)

Satyendra Huja 3,797 62
David Brown 3,781 62
Holly Edwards 3,711 60
Peter Kleeman 2,212 36
Barbara Haskins 2,111 34

School Board (7 members, 4 elected)

Kathy Galvin 3,240 53
Colette Blount 2,972 48
Luzelle Dugger 2,479 41
Alvin Edwards 2,370 38
Grant Brownrigg 1,852 30
Sean McCord 1,649 27
Lynette Meynig 1,182 19

Senate 25th District
Creigh Deeds 5,097 83

House 57th District
David Toscano 5,276 86

Soil and Water Conservation Director

Richard Collins 3,186 52
John Conover 3,295 54
John Pfalz 1,607 26

Note: Percentages are number of votes received divided by Total Voting of 6,086. The Registrar and State Board of Elections use a different method.

For comparison:

“[Dave] Norris received 3,945 votes, 66% of 26% who turned out, and 17% of registered voters [on May 2, 2006].

[Julian] Taliaferro 3,742, 62%, 16%.

[Rob] Schilling 2,460, 41%, 11%. He picked up 291 votes since ’02. The NAACP and The Tribune, Charlottesville’s African-American newspaper since 1954, endorsed Schilling.

In comparison, top vote-getter in ’04 Kendra Hamilton received 3,465 with 65% of the 27% turnout and Blake Caravati 2,528 in ’02 with 58% of the 22%.” (“Democrats regain monopoly in Charlottesville: School Board weak on safety”, May 4, 2006)

Ned Michie received 3,099 votes, 52% of the turnout in the May 2006 election. He was the only incumbent and was appointed by the City Council. Leah Puryear and Juandiego Wade were also elected. With the Nov. ’07 election, the city’s first fully elected school board will be composed entirely of members elected at-large.

In this year's election, Alvin Edwards was the only appointed school board member still on the board. He was appointed June 2005. Nov. 2005 a voter referendum forced Council, despite unanymous Council opposition, to switch to an elected school board.


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