Speedy: Court no-show leads to candidate arrest

The Democratic primary is still two months away, and already one of the City Council contenders has run afoul of the law. Wesley Bellamy announced his candidacy March 6; on March 27, he had a press conference to announce it was the clerk's fault he was arrested for failing to show up in court.

Bellamy, 26, a computer teacher at Albemarle High and founder of a mentoring/boxing organization called Helping Young People Evolve– HYPE– was the first of two African-American men to declare their candidacy in the oft-white field of council contenders.

In the midst of collecting coats for HYPE and being tapped into the League of Extraordinary Black Men on a website called theblackmancan.org, Bellamy has also accumulated a few traffic tickets.

Within two months in early 2012, he picked up four summonses in Albemarle County: driving with a suspended license, which was amended to no operator's license, and reckless driving on January 10, 2012; driving 73mph in a 55mph zone on February 26, and speeding again on March 10, this time going 70mph in a 55mph zone.

Earlier this year in Charlottesville on February 16, Bellamy was again charged with driving with a suspended license. It was his failure to appear in court March 14 that resulted in a bench warrant.

He turned himself in to police March 25. At his March 27 press conference, a bowtie-wearing Bellamy explained that he'd called the clerk's office in Charlottesville General District Court to reschedule the March 14 hearing.

"I feel that it's important as leaders to realize miscommunication occurs from time to time and people make mistakes," said Bellamy. "I am aware the clerk is human and did not put in the records the correct address or that I asked for a continuance."

The city General District Court clerk did not respond to multiple phone calls from the Hook. By email April 2, Bellamy declined to comment on the reason for his suspended license until after his court hearing, "[a]fter which, I will answer all questions," he promises. He also seems to back away from finger-pointing at the clerk. "All I can say is that the clerk and I had a misunderstanding," he writes.

"I was at his press conference and he explained it all away as a clerical error," says Charlottesville Democratic chair Jim Nix. "I'm disappointed he didn't tell us about these things. It's not a good way to begin his campaign."

Just two years ago, another City Council candidate, James Halfaday, was arrested after he signed a false declaration that he lived in the city.

"I'm quite sure Wes Bellamy lives in the city and is qualified to run," says Nix. "I don't think he's made a false statement."

It turns out Bellamy isn't the only council candidate with a problematic driving record. Melvin Grady, 44, a teacher at Buford Middle School, admits he's had his own run-ins with the law, including driving while intoxicated about 13 or 14 years ago. He was charged with a third DWI in 2004, according to Charlottesville court records. A jury acquitted him in 2005.

Albemarle court records show that in 2006, Grady was charged with reckless driving for going 93mph in a 65mph zone, and twice he was charged for driving with a suspended license.

"I was driving to work and I was being hard headed," he says of the suspended license charge.

"I paid my dues," says Grady. "Once you start paying those fines, it's costly."

Grady also was charged with misdemeanor assault in October 2007 in Charlottesville, a charge that was dismissed. "That was just bogus," he says. "Someone was upset because I asked them to leave my property. They went to the magistrate and filed a false warrant."

Because of his own record, Grady says he can relate to Bellamy's woes. "I learned my lesson," he says. "I'm licensed now, and I'm straight."

And as a math teacher and track coach, Grady was also motivated to change his driving style. "You can't do that and be a role model," he says.

As for the other Dem candidates for council, incumbent Kristin Szakos picked up a 45mph-in-a 25mph ticket in 2009; Bob Fenwick failed to obey a highway sign in 2007 and was cited for no registration in 2012, and UVA grad student Adam Lees shows no traffic violations in Charlottesville and Albemarle court records.


Like shooting fish in a barrel. All these people that want to tell us how to run out lives...

Fenwick also failed to obey his third base coach's stop sign, and was thrown out a home when he tried to score from second base on a lazy single to left field.

What happened in 2007 is different than a bunch of issues right when you file your candidacy. Also was there not another news story floating around that said the court clerk said Bellamy's excuse was bogus? His issues look worse than the other three candidates. Grady seems like a more mature local candidate as does Fenwick so far.

If you miss a court date because of a "clerical error" , ok, I can understand that. But the REAL ISSUE is the complete disregard for the laws that govern safe driving. Repeated offenses of speeding, reckless driving, and then driving without a valid license and/or suspended license. Hello, people! Bellamy has no regard for the well being of the other people on the road, including pedestrians. And you want him to decide what is best for the community by putting him on City Council?
And Grady is no better - multiple DUI's, reckless driving, suspended license. Again, disregard for the laws that ensure safety in our community.
If these people think that they are above the law now, wait until you elect one of them to a position of authority. And why are they running for office in the first place? Because they want to serve their community or to satisfy their own egos?
Thank you to the HOOK for reporting this information that is helpful to the voters in making a good choice.

What with Chris Dumler on the BOS, surely the city has to keep up. And Bellamy would admirably represent a particular constituency as well....

Hey, if it wasn't for their double standards, they have no standards at all.

Not only is this man a failure as a computer science "teacher", but also as a driver.
He wants to be on the City Council?
Amazing, really. What a fraud.