Independent's day: Clerkship-seeking Melampy runs-- again

Despite being resoundingly whupped in the Democratic primary, Pam Melampy declared her candidacy as an independent for Charlottesville clerk of court on September 27.

"We're not happy she's doing that," says Democratic co-chair Jim Nix. "She signed a document saying she would support the Democratic nominee."

Melampy contends that her over 20 years of experience in the court system make her the best choice for the $112K-a-year job, and if elected, she promises she'll donate 10 percent of her salary to the local Boys and Girls Club, SPCA, and Hospice House of the Piedmont.

"I want to take a pay cut," says Melampy. "You don't hear many people saying that."

Independent City Council candidates Scott Bandy and Andrew Williams joined Melampy as she entered the November 8 race for the second time.

Her first time as one of three Democratic candidates in the August 20 primary running against incumbent Paul Garrett and public defender Llezelle Dugger left Melampy feeling duped, she says. The Democratic Committee initially was "gung ho" about her candidacy until she had signed a check for $250 to the party and the declaration that she would only support the Democratic nominees, according to Melampy.

The support she thought she had among Dems and local lawyers evaporated when Dugger entered the race, and Melampy feels Dugger was the party favorite all along, she explains. Dugger received 1,534 votes in the primary, Garrett 656, and Melampy 294.

"More people will come out on election day," predicts Melampy. "Charlottesville shouldn't be run by 2,500 voters," the number that showed up for the Democratic primary.

Her husband publicly scolded the media and party bosses for alleged mistreatment. (The ballot listed candidates alphabetically, rather than in order of announcing a run, and the media mistreated her by allegedly emphasizing Llezelle Dugger in news stories.)

A native Charlottesvillian, Melampy admits she's inexperienced about politics, but firmly believes that her 22 years working as a deputy clerk in both the general district and ciruit courts is what really counts. She currently is employed by her sister, Debra Shipp, clerk of Albemarle Circuit Court.

In a "Dear Charlottesville Voters" letter, Melampy explains why she's running as an independent after pledging to support the Democratic nominee: "I felt as if I never had the support from the Democratic Committee once I had pledged to run on their ticket. Why should I feel any disloyalty to them now that I have chosen to run as an Independent?" she writes.

"I think it speaks to her integrity," says Nix. "Some [in the party] wanted to take a hard line. But she's not a threat. She's not a serious candidate."

Nix says the Democratic Committee didn't support anyone during the primary, and was very careful to show no favoritism among the candidates.

"The clerk of court is not a partisan position," say Melampy. "Charlottesville voters should have the right to decide, not just a handful of people."


More Virginia political figures, including Mayor Dave Norris, appear on the locally-produced Charlottesville politics interview program Politics Matters with host Jan Madeleine Paynter: The interview can be found in the Program Library. The current program features Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the UVA Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, discussing journalism and the media.

Raise your hand if you believe this statement.

" Nix says the Democratic Committee didn't support anyone during the primary, and was very careful to show no favoritism among the candidates. "

My hand is way up. I thought the Party leadership and executive committee did a good job of staying out of the way of the process. If she thinks otherwise, she clearly did not understand the process.

"Her husband publicly scolded the media and party bosses for alleged mistreatment. (The ballot listed candidates alphabetically, rather than in order of announcing a run, and the media mistreated her by allegedly emphasizing Llezelle Dugger in news stories.)"

Seriously??!! They thought her name belonged at the top of the ballot because she announced her candidacy first?! That's priceless! Utterly absurd, but priceless.

Newsflash Pam... your name won't be at the top this time either. "M" still follows "D" in the alphabet AND you announced your run after Dugger - take your pick.

I don't live in the city so I don't have a dog in this fight. But what does she do at the Albemarle County Clerk's Office and what qualifications did she have for that job? If you're going to discuss cronyism, you might as well discuss nepotism too.

(And I'm curious how you can hire your own sister for a public job and evaluate her fairly for 22 years.)

I do think it's kind of a rotten trick to immediately (within 24 hours) get your minimum signatures and run as an independent after losing in a caucus. If she had won and the loser decided to run as an indepdent, I'm sure she'd be singing a different tune. So I suspect that she had Plan B -- run as an independent all along. I doubt that she would take a 10% cut and how you would know if she did it unless she released her tax records.

Pam hasn't worked at the county Circuit Court Clerk's Office for 22 years. She was hired after Shelby Marshall retired and Debra Shipp (Pam's sister) became the new clerk.

Furthermore, cronyism and nepotism is nothing new to city and county government. You could almost call it the norm in this area. Do you know how many father & son teams there are working in city government alone? One of the worst case examples was when a city sheriff's son was hired and promoted in the Charlottesville Sheriff's Department. These well thought out plans pretty much fizzled out after Sheriff James Brown won the sheriff's election a few years ago.

@So? , she clerks which is well worth my vote. Dugger's Public Defender's office once lost a client for two weeks as she sat in jail.

Let's stay on topic - we're talking about the clerk race - no need to rehash someone's primordial grudge against a long-dead former sheriff who fired him for napping in the courthouse.

We get it. Nepotism bad. Competence good.

It didn't help that she sent out a former request for support/ donations to the law firms and it was riddled with mistakes. The rule is I before E except after C. and 8 or so other mistakes. Her sister needs to take a pay cut and hire an accountant. Clerks do have to open the monthly bank statement.

Pam Melampy, in a post on James Halfaday's Facebook page, August 19, 2011: "James ~ Best of luck to you tomorrow. You have quickly gained my admiration. There are few people that I can honestly say that about.
You definitely have my vote as well as Benny's and everyone that I have introduced you to. Your vision of honesty, integrity and equality is a reflection of your soul. If I have enjoyed anything from this campaign it was getting to meet you! ~ Pam Melampy"

It's hard to stay on topic, Chuck. Especially when you introduce new and false claims. The only interaction I ever had with your long-dead sheriff was filing 2 grievance complaints against him. And my winning both I might add. And they were both a direct result of his flagrant nepotism.

He never fired me. He sure would liked to have though. :)

I like both Lezelle and Pam as personal friends. But fair is fair. There were a lot of people who drank the Halfaday kool aid. If we are going to judge people based on their association with Halfaday, I have to rethink my feelings about a lot of people I know. Do I know all I need to know about Sheriff James Brown when I see him voluntarily posing in a picture with Halfaday? What about former Sheriff Cornelia Johnson posing in a picture with him too? And former Deputy Ida Lewis? And Albemarle County Democrats Chairwoman Valerie L'Herrou? And UVA President Sullivan? Dr. Clayborne Carson? Businessman Terry McAullife? Former Govenor Tim Kaine? The list goes on and on.

What's your point? Halfaday got his photo taken with a lot of people. Not one of them offered the fawning praise for him that Melampy did. Some sipped the kool-aid but she guzzled it. Not a good judge of character apparently.

Perhaps the Gasbag likewise guzzled a bit of the Halfaday cool-aid and now takes solace in the notion that others better than him were likewise duped?

"Here's everything" is right though. Fact is, Halfaday photo-bombed anybody who stood still long enough for a shutter to drop. Doesn't mean they all endorsed him.

"Signed a document saying she would support the democratic nominee"
Why would that document even exist?

Um, maybe because it was a Democratic Party primary?

She sought the nomination of the Democratic Party. In return the Party sought her word that she would respect its process and abide by the results of that primary. Pretty straightforward and simple really. If she had a problem with it, she should not have signed it. And she still would have been able to run as an Independent.

No, Chuck. Unlike other candidates for city council and clerk of court, Gasbag never met Halfaday face to face. Although it's entirely possible Halfaday snuck some of his kool-aid into the public resevoirs in order to have fooled so many people. Makes me glad I only drink bottled water, pepsi and an occasional beer or glass of wine.

Guys, let's just state the obvious and get it out of the way:

We're choosing between someone with a bachelor's degree from Berkeley and a J.D. from William & Mary...and someone with a high school diploma.

This isn't a politically-driven position; it's a simple issue of competency. And when I'm entrusting someone with the records to my house and marriage, you better damn well bet I'm giving them to someone who actually knows what the inside of a college textbook looks like.

What is "straightforward and simple" is how party lines are ruining our democracy.

Discerning: how correct. The 50s are almost over in C-ville. The I'm from here and X is not is still worth at least 10% of the vote.

Gonna have to disagree with this college thing. I have seen some pretty stupid people walking around with college degrees. They come in two different flavors. The first flavor is book sense and no common sense. The second flavor is you can't fix stupid, college degree or no college degree. And some of you can debate this as long as you want, but you know I am right. College degrees are being handed out just as sloppily as high school diplomas are now. We have kids straight out of high school that can't tell you how many quarters there are in a $10 roll of quarters.


I can agree with some of what you say, but lately, those with the supposed can do experience have been running our country into the ground. A bit of book sense might actually be useful in solving problems. usually because the book sense people are focused on what is, not playing games.


While I can possibly degree with your ill-reasoned point that college degrees don't mean anything, it doesn't change the fact that you're missing the crux of my argument. Dugger has a B.A. AND a J.D. In some situations I can contend that college graduates from some institutions are no better off than people with a G.E.D., but as a product of a legal education myself, I know the rigors that law students are put through, and coming out with a J.D. is no small accomplishment. And when the job entails a thorough understanding of the legal system, I'm going to vote for the person who has spent years learning about and praciticing in that legal system as opposed to someone who simply has "experience" working for her sister.

@Discerning - I am curious why it's better to have someone underemployed (Berkeley and W&M) vs someone over-employed? I do not believe the clerk's office requires an advanced ability to argue legal theory; I do believe it requires efficient clerical skills - something someone with a High School Diploma is perfectly capable of.

Let me turn your question around: why is someone with a J.D. from W&L trying to get work as a Clerk in a podunk town? You could maybe sell me on the "important, meaningful and principled work" spiel with regard to the Public Defender job, but the City Clerk? There are so many people who excel in the classroom and yet flail badly when they have to get out in the real world.

If we were to succeed in eliminating political parties from the process, they would be quickly replaced by other versions of the same thing. All things considered, this republic has fared quite well for the last two centuries with a two-party system.

My advice? If you don't care for the system, become more active in the process and make the system work for you. That's how it works.

Or sit back and complain on the internet.


Great question. It's my understanding that she's running for the position because she has seen, experienced, and been affected by the deficiencies in THAT particular office. She knows the ways in which Mr. Garrett has failed, including losing sentencing orders which resulted in defendants being held in prison long past their release date, and she will work to eliminate those downfalls. She has demonstrated herself to be an excellent lawyer, as well as a competent and qualified leader.

Oops! My Bad! I never meant to imply in any way whatsoever that Lezelle is one of those who might have college degrees, and yet she might still be as dumb as a rock. Lezelle is a very intelligent person and has represented me in the past during her private practice days. She was extremely competent and did a very good job at representing me in a court of law (civil case).

Deleted by moderator.

"I would take common sense and experience over book sense any day."

Judging from your horrendous spelling mistakes, egregious lies about Llezelle, illogical analogies (aviation and surgery, really?), and poor grasp of English grammar (I commend you for attempting to use 'whom', but it was nonetheless incorrect), it goes without saying that you would probably pick common sense over book sense. To sum up my argument, let me refer you to a relevant clip --

First of all: You people are being incredibly nasty and rude to Ms. Melampy, a woman who most of you do not know. And second, A lot of the things being said about Melampy are only half truths.

Melampy does work for her sister; but she has also worked for many years under Shelby Marks and in the city office under Paul. For all of the people that are questioning her morale please go visit her at the work place as I have. Pam has laughed, cried and hugged me while I was in the Albemarle office and to hear that people are making her out to be a liar or cheater in very unsettling.

Pam does not have a law degree from William and Mary and she has not studied at Berkeley so when you hire Pam as your attorney is when I will vote for an inexperienced lawyer to run my clerks office. As I have stated previously I have visited the clerks office and spoken with Pam, but I do not think that I am qualified to properly run it.

I would love to have Llezelle defend me in court but because of her inexperience I am glad to have another candidate running in the election. The 2500 Charlottesville citizens should not be able to make a decision for the whole city, some people did not have candidates in their party and other just simply do not vote in primaries to begin with.

I hope all of you can begin to discuss the election with out the slander of either candidates names in the following comments.

I correct myself, Pam worked for Shelby Marshall prior to working under her sister Deborah Shipp

I care about proper grammar.

Deleted by moderator.

If you want any of your points to make it past the moderator, try making them without the slanderous accusations next time. And go easy on the ALL-CAPS too. Doesn't serve you well.

We the citizens of the city of Charlotteville deserve the right to have a forum for the clerks prior to the election so we can determine who knows more about the duties and the day to day functions. The select group of people who want Llzelle in office don't want to have a forum as they don't want everyone to find out what little their candidate knows.

@Don't be fooled

To what evidence can you point demonstrating that Llezelle supporters don't want a forum? It's my understanding that Llezelle and everyone involved with her campaign would love to have as many public forums as possible to get the word out. Not sure where you are getting this accusation, especially in light of the fact that you're blatantly part of Pam's team.

Good job on using appropriate capitalization. Now we just need to work on your penchant for slinging around libelous accusations, and one of these days the moderator might let one of your rants slide by. Keep trying.


Or should I call you "Ranger". First of all I am not part of Pam's team and I know both Llzelle and Pam. The day that someone hires Pam Melampy as their attorney is the same day that I will vote for Llzelle Dugger to be the next clerk of court. What I am trying to emphasize to you and everyone around you is that Llzelle does not know the procedures to file documents in the clerks office. She has never ever worked there. She visits there on occasion to get a copy of a clients charge; look at his file; go to court. Other than that what else has she ever done in that office? In the Hook articel, Jim Nix made a quote regarding to Mrs. Melampy running as an Independent. "I think it speaks to her integrity," says Nix. "Some [in the party] wanted to take a hard line. But she's not a threat. She's not a serious candidate."

So, if she is not a serious candidate, then why are you and other Llzelle supporters getting so flustered? You just wanted a smooth ride into the office and not let the citizens have anything to do with the choice of their next clerk. Well, guess what? The citizens will have the last word and will be out on Nov 8th making the correct choice. Pam is not a politician and doesn't need to be. Vote Experience if you don't want to have to train your next clerk of court for years to come.

To the moderator:

Let's be fair when removing posts and comments.

* Language stronger than "darn," insults, ethnically or racially disparaging language, and comparisons to Hitler usually result in speedy comment deletion and may get you blocked from further commenting. Ditto for posting unverified and/or potentially libelous allegations, and even off-topic digression. And to avoid spam, any comment containing more than two links gets eaten by Bigfoot.

So 2 of my posts were removed; one from 10/5 and one from 10/6 yet you did not delete Wow's comment on 10/5 @ 6:45. Let's play fair. Maybe you should take another look.

That was hilarious! Billy Madison is one of my least favorite Sandler movies, but that scene is hysterical.

And Wow's analysis in that post was spot on. That's why it did not get deleted.

@ Don't feel fooled

Okay, let me address your concerns in turn:

First, I have no clue who/what "Ranger" is. Secondly, analogizing being a clerk to being a lawyer is completely illogical. You don't need to go to clerk school to be a clerk; you need to go to law school to be a lawyer. Last, you failed to address the comment to which you are replying in the first place. I'm getting "flustered," as you described it, because you began throwing around blatant lies about Llezelle, her campaign, and her supporters. I was simply asking you for whatever evidence you had to back up your statement. That's the only reason I got involved in the first place, otherwise I'll let Llezelle's campaign speak for itself and let the intelligent, discerning citizens of Charlottesville make their own educated decisions. I don't see the need in resorting to expletives and false accusations.

^@Don't be fooled

My apologies for the error.

Fatty, you must be a lobbyist

Hardly. Just a good American who strongly believes in participatory democracy. Emphasis on "participatory".

Is Dugger after the job or the slary? The independent has my vote. Why is the Democratic Party trying to force to vote for its candidate. As a free American citizen people can vote for anyone they wish. Doesn't the lady have the right to change her mind? I certainly will not be voting for Dugger. I do not think she knows the value of a dollar. She wants to spend $2M on tablets and $56M on remodeling schools to accommodate the 4-year-old being moved to Walker after a previous school board said it was paramount for those students to attend the same elementary school as their siblings. Does anyone know what he's talking about or is it that some people enjoy spending other peopl's money.

When two brothers or two sisters are the head clerk of both Court houses and election time comes up. If someone in the Alb. Court house wants to run for City Clerk or vice versa. Won't they be in a odd place running against the brother/sister of their own boss? What policy is in place to protect themselves if they are running against their boses brother/sister?

Home values continue to drop in the Charlottesville area. I wonder where anybody thinks they are going to come up with $58 million dollars? It certainly won't be from property taxes.

It is obvious that Ms. Melampy believes that $112K to be an elected "clerk" of the court is far too much remuneration for the position. Why donate our money? Why not just say you will take the job for $100K? The lowest qualified bidder should get the job.

Maybe others feel the same way- perhaps it is time to bring the government pay scales back to regular workers levels.

If Ms. Dugger has collected 25k in campaign funds why is she still asking for more money? I feel it is just bad budgeting on her behalf.

Also let us list the past clerks and their education:
Shelby: high school education
Deborah: high school education
Paul: College education

Why does a college degree suddenly matter after 2/3 previous clerks only had a high school diploma. I stand by my belief that the job is strictly experience based.

I wonder if the candidate herself, Pam Melampy has been posting on this board as DON'T BE FOOLED BY DUGGER?

I just perused Pam Melampy's "Dear Charlottesville Voters" letter. Funny thing. It is full of the same types of spelling and grammar mistakes that plague poor DON'T BE FOOLED BY DUGGER. They even use many of the same analogies and exactly the same phrasing: "The day that someone hires Pam Melampy as their attorney is the same day that I will vote for Llzelle Dugger to be the next clerk of court", among others.

They both, strangely, also mention someone called RangeRon78/Ranger. Very odd.

And kind of sad.

Not sure education matters at all- it's a Government clerk position

Pam worked for Charlottesville General District Court while Shelby Marshall was Clerk of Albemarle County Circuit Court. When Debbie became Clerk, Pam came to Albemarle County Circuit Court, at the loss of another critical employee. (Karma is a ...)

Just to be clear. I am RangeRon78. That's my e-mail account name which I used long before either of these candidates sought the Democratic party nomination to become clerk of court, including to register comments on the local daily newspaper's website. When I commented there on articles about this race before the primary, I just used my previously-registered user name.
Lots of people know that's me from all the places I've used it. It's a conjunction of "Ranger, "Ron" and "1978" from when I was a Ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch. That's me.
None of these comments are mine, which is not to say I disagree with all of them. I've withdrawn from the fray. Sometimes the best way to end an argument is to stop arguing. Or so I thought.

Why should a "clerk of the court" be a political position? Next thing you know, a sheriff and a school board position will be a political position.............


Glad someone can appreciate that always relevant Billy Madison reference.