People to watch
Kristin Szakos: While professionally she's been a reporter/writer/translator, community organizing has always been close to the vice mayor's heart— she's written two books about it and her husband runs Virginia Organizing. Early on, she led the local campaign of another community organizer, Barack Obama, and her website photo of the president is not the standard grip-and-grin, but one in which it looks like he actually knows her. Szakos ran for City Council in 2009 and has implemented the popular town hall meetings that take City Council out to the neighborhoods. She's running for council again, and if she's elected, odds are pretty good that she's going to be Charlottesville's next mayor. Pet peeve: Civil War monuments.
Paul Beyer: When we first heard of the young VP at a local construction company that bears his family name in 2011, he was a 29-year-old running for City Council, and he didn't get the Democratic nomination. Rather than just fading away, Beyer has launched something really cool: The Tom Tom Founder's Festival, an ambitious smorgasbord of music, art, and innovation that he sees as Charlottesville's answer to South by Southwest. In 2012 he debuted a month-long event that used unusual venues for music and included the first McGuffey block party. This year the festival was more tightly honed into a long, powerhouse weekend focused on innovation and supported by UVA's Darden School— and it had a good beat and was easy to dance to. Likes: good design in logos.
Wes Bellamy: Not that we're trying to focus only on people who've run for City Council, but that's how the 26-year-old county teacher garnered more widespread attention beyond his work with a youth mentoring/boxing program called H.Y.P.E.— Helping Young People Evolve. And we're not just talking about his arrest three weeks after announcing his campaign for not showing up in court, a matter that was a mix-up of traffic violations and misunderstandings straightened out before the primary. In any case, Bellamy would be remembered for his rare June 11 tie of 1,088 votes to get on the November ballot, barely losing to Bob Fenwick by five votes. Even without the nomination, we fully expect to hear more from Bellamy. Frequent fashion statement: a bowtie.
Steve Sellers: Only the fourth chief since the Albemarle County Police Department was formed in 1983, Sellers has been putting his mark on the agency since he started in 2011. He stresses integrity and ethics for his officers, and they're a lot more likely to get a ticket if they're involved in an accident. More seriously, he's had three officers fire their weapons in the past six months, including one fatal shooting, and takes the stance that there's no rush in letting the public know who the shooters are until all investigations are complete. Meanwhile he's lobbying for a firing range. He prefers to be called "colonel," so keep that in mind when talking to the chief. Pet peeve: embezzling.
John Whitehead: The founder of the civil liberties organization, the Rutherford Institute, has been saying for years that America is developing into a police state, and with recent incidents here, such as the SWAT team arrest for two pot plants, or the ABC sting that put an ice-cream buying coed in jail, people are taking him a lot more seriously. Although he's a lawyer best known for representing people he believes are being oppressed by government (think Paula Jones), Whitehead started the well-regarded, now-defunct popular culture magazine Gadfly, and has been known to pen an article on the Beatles. His most recent book is, no surprise, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. Pet peeves: SWAT teams, zero-tolerance policies in schools.
Ann Mallek: The chair of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors is a farmer, so don't be surprised to hear her apologize for not returning a call because a cow was calving. She's a county native who has a firm, courteous manner in running the board meetings— yet she's not afraid to play hardball, which explains why she's serving her fourth year as chair in what has traditionally been a two-year gig, sort of a payback for the notorious so-called "midnight vote" by her Republican colleagues that resurrected the controversial Western 29 bypass in a rare parliamentary procedure that caught Mallek offguard. Likes: swing, square dancing.
Correction 8/2/2013: Steve Sellers is the fourth Albemarle police chief, not the third as originally reported.