Single shot: Can an independent win Council seat?

news-water-bob-fenwick1Independent Bob Fenwick wants to defy the odds and get on City Council.

Independent City Council candidate Bob Fenwick is getting a lot of buzz– and support from a broad coterie of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. But is that enough to get him elected to Council in a city long dominated by Dems?

It's hard enough for a Republican to get a seat on Council–- ask Rob Schilling, who was elected in 2002, the first Republican in 16 years. For an independent running without even minority party support, what are the odds?

"It is virtually impossible," says Schilling. "The last independent elected was in 1936. These elections are rigged to favor Democrats." Non-Dems would have a much better chance if they were elected in wards or districts rather than at-large, and if the City Council races were nonpartisan, as School Board elections are, says Schilling.

Even while acknowledging the daunting odds against an independent, Schilling has offered to put a Bob Fenwick sign in his yard.

And he has this advice for Fenwick: "He needs to tell everyone to single shot."

Single-shotting is the practice of voting for only one candidate, even though there are two open seats, because voting for either of the majority Dem candidates– incumbent Mayor Dave Norris or Kristin Szakos– cancels out a vote for Fenwick, explains Schilling. "It was a big part in my election."

Perhaps independent Antoinette Roades best explains how this seemingly counter-intuitive strategy works:

"Let's say that 100 people go to the polls. Two seats are vacant, so each person can vote twice, although none need do so. Let's also say that 51 of those 100 people cast one of their votes for Fenwick while 49 cast one of their votes for Norris and the other of their votes for Szakos. If everyone stops there, Fenwick wins a seat. But if even three of Fenwick's 51 also cast votes for Norris and a mere three more cast votes for Szakos, both Norris and Szakos end up with 52 votes and Fenwick is completely shut out."

Three independents want a seat at the City Council table. Paul Long's decriminalization-of-drugs platform introduces an issue that doesn't fall under City Council jurisdiction, and Andrew Williams' inability to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot puts his chances of a successful write-in candidacy in the extremely unlikely category.

Bob Fenwick came into the public eye in the summer of 2008 when the city quietly unveiled plans to chop two softball fields at McIntire Park, and he's responsible for the "Save McIntire" signs that are in yards all over town.

He also tapped into the other big issue in this election: the community long-term water supply controversy that pits damming and dredging factions.

Fenwick coupled his Army Corps of Engineering skills with a little old-fashioned showmanship to stage dredging demonstrations at Loch Leigh in Ivy and the Rivanna Reservoir.

And he further cast his lot against the appointed authorities that control water and waste by calling for the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority to abandon its lawsuit against single-stream recycler Peter Van der Linde.

Fenwick's positions on the two hot button issues–-McIntire Park, a.k.a Meadowcreek Parkway, and the mega-million community water plan–- have earned him support from long-time Democrats like Betty Mooney, who's hosting an event for Fenwick.

"I have had so many people tell me they are [voting for Fenwick], but they swore me to secrecy," she says. "But they really believe we need another voice on Council who knows infrastructure and who cares about preserving parks, the reservoir, and neighborhoods. I feel like those issues are so paramount, that's why I came out publicly."

Mooney thinks Fenwick has a shot– and not just a single shot. "I think some will," she says. "I've heard some are going to single shot Kristin Szakos, some Dave Norris."

"I think anything that breaks up the monopoly of power in Charlottesville is good," says Charles "Buddy" Weber, chairman of the local Republican Party, which came up with a platform– but no candidates– for this fall's race.

Fenwick has not gotten the endorsement of Republicans. "If he wanted our endorsement, he'd ask," observes Weber. "Bob's an independent guy."

Weber doesn't see Fenwick's opposition to the Meadowcreek Parkway as a deal breaker for Republicans. "The things he's running on are things reasonable people can disagree," says Weber. "There's no Republican or Democratic way of repairing sidewalks."

Adds Weber, "Single shot voting is incredibly important because there are two slots available. If you split your vote between Fenwick and one of the Democrats, you're adding to the Democratic vote." The way for Fenwick supporters to cast two votes, suggests Weber, is to choose another independent like Long.

Peter Kleeman ran as an independent for Council two years ago. "It's a huge burden to overcome," he says.

He thinks whether Fenwick gets elected depends on whether he defeats Kristin Szakos. "People are going to vote Norris/Szakos or Norris/Fenwick or just Fenwick single shot," says Fenwick. "I can't imagine many voting Fenwick/Szakos."

According to Kleeman, "I see no chance Dave Norris is not going to get elected, so it makes no difference how many vote for Norris. It really comes down to Kristin Szakos versus Bob Fenwick."

Fenwick says single shot voting will be "absolutely" crucial to him getting elected. "The technique was used in the '50s during massive resistance– blacks used it to maximize their vote," he says.

As for the Democrats who are publicly supporting Fenwick, there's not much the party can do about it, even if the they signed a pledge to support the party's candidates during the firehouse primary in the spring, says co-chair Jennifer McKeever.

"If you're a[n executive] committee member, you have a duty not to publicly support another candidate," says McKeever, and offenders will not be invited to a reorganizing meeting in December.

The Democrats anticipate higher turnout because of the governor race, and they are taking Fenwick seriously, says McKeever.

"Bob Fenwick is a slogan," she lobs. "The last time we elected someone with a slogan, our state budget went to hell. A slogan is not governing."

Correction November 1: The city has always maintained that its lease to the YMCA had nothing to do with city plans to remove the two softball fields, and the article has been altered to reflect that.


Jennifer McKeever, Aren't you the one who lawyered in fighting the Parkway case? From what I hear, your being in court was a complete waste of time. Courtroom observers don't attribute your loss to a "stroke of bad luck" either. Bob Fenwick has made a better case than you ever could for stopping the road.

Save money, parks, reservoirs, neighborhoods, vote for a voice for the people in city governmnet --single shot Fenwick on election day . Only you and your maker will know that you voted for doing the right thing for Charlottesville by voting for Bob Fenwick in the privacy of the voting booth on Tuesday Nov. 3rd.

The parkland lost to the parkway have been replaced many times over by the agreement signed by the city and county. I'm not voting for Bob based on his Meadowcreek Park stance.

Noble run Bob but you lose

Reading through the lines,Seriously,you are participating in the same muck you criticize.Get real man,we can read.You spoke in a very nasty way about Fenwick. No one is buying it.Wierd for shure.

No one really cares if seriously? throws a vote away. It is obvious seriously? has issues. I suggest seriously? meet with Betty Mooney. That is if seriously? has the strength to keep an open mind with those seriously? disagrees with.

You are so right on, Watchdog!

Tom Frederick is really starting to look more and more like Joe McCarthy every day.


We've already had plenty of evidence that the RSWA didn't manage its operations properly -- they ADMIT they didn't even ask where the trash came from many times. For them to sue Van der Linde is ridiculous ... to use a RICO suit is immoral and unethical.

It would be soooooo appropriate to just SHUT DOWN THE RSWA and invite Van der Linde, Allied, and any other interested parties to bid on accepting all Cville trash.

Not only is Van der Linde qualified, he actually delivers what everyone says they want -- the best recycling possible today with true environmental leadership. The county's LEED building and other efforts are probably worth less than 1% of the benefits Van der Linde provides!

WE DO NOT NEED THE RSWA (waste) to spread the immoral stain on the reputation of our community that the RWSA (water) has already created. We need to clean up this mess and try to actually live up to the Jeffersonian ideals of truth and integrity that we always reference.

You really have to ask yourself how we got here in the past 5 years. What is the common element that led us so far downhill?

Let Albemarle County go its own way and do whatever it wants ... let them illegally pollute the groundwater at the Ivy dump again and lie about it. The neighbors can't complain -- they all had to sign secrecy agreements after they successfully sued the RSWA last time.

Have you noticed that Bob Fenwick is the only candidate who has publicly called this RSWA abortion of the legal process what it truly is?

We so desperately need Fenwick's intelligence and integrity on City Council.

The City Manager has also been trying to trick Councilors into supporting the County dam plan for years. We need someone who can stand up to him, understand the reports, and ask the hard questions and stop letting Mr. O'Connell work against what's good for city residents. I believe after 7 years in the Army and 33 years as a small business owner and serving time in Vietnam, Fenwick is up to the job--he's got my vote.


If you're a film lover, you know the story - corrupt private interests do whatever it takes to get their water plan built.

The Albemarle politicians are now producing CHINATOWN-THE SEQUEL. Ever ask any candidate running for the Albemarle BOS about the water supply plan? You'd see less fear in the eyes of an Afghan suicide bomber on a mission.

Ask former Charlottesville politicians like Francis Fife, Kendra Hamilton, and Kevin Lynch -- all of whom say the current water plan is a swindle based upon years of lies and misrepresentations. Each one of them has publicly said they were lied to and that the current plan is horse manure - VERY EXPENSIVE HORSE MANURE.

Fenwick is Charlottesville's Jack Nicholson. The only guy smart enough, independent enough, and tough enough to stand up to these interests. If Fenwick is not elected, Norris, Szakos, and Brown will give away the store and give Overrun O'Connell his ultimate retirement gift.

If you live in the city, voting for Fenwick is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your wallet and the future of your city during your lifetime.

Single shot for Fenwick. Get someone with a brain AND a spine on City Council.

Fired Up--Ready to go --see you at Milano tonight 5:30

twitter away let's get a crowd !!!

I totally agree about diversity. We also need people on Council that have owned businesses and that have accumulated life knowledge.

I got to it. Norris can jump in a lake, after this and how he reamed Belmont.

"The Democrats will lose at least 1 seat on council tomorrow if they aren’t careful"

Let's hope so! I am one (a Democrat), but Fenwick will be getting a single shot from me because I trust him with my water supply a lot more than I trust Szakos with it.

Cville Dem, Won't there be future votes from the council regarding the parkway? It is highly predictable Szakos will not intervene,unless as she says, the case goes to court. Fenwick will do his best to keep the through traffic in the county.

Get to it.
Single shot Fenwick.

Hmm, why would a co-chair of the Democratic Party take a shot at Bob Fenwick? Off the top of my head I'll give you two reasons:

1. Fenwick can do nothing to stop the parkway at this point. Anyone who thinks that voting for Bob Fenwick will "Save McIntire Park" is simply misinformed.

2. To be sure, Fenwick is a self-described Republican. But since a GOP endorsement (and you just know they would LOVE to give it) would certainly scuttle his chances, he has elected to keep the Republicans at arms length. However, a Republican by any other name...

He wrote in response to the question referring to poverty in this weeks Cvilleweekly:

" What is the role of City Council in addressing this problem? Why in your estimation, have past Councils failed to make strides in this area?

Bob wrote:

" Equally important is the will of the elected representatives to stay with the problem, monitor actions to see that they are achieving the desired results and change their approach if necessary. This is where past city councils have failed. They have treated the problem primarily as a political problem---call a press conference, appoint a commission or a task force, allocate some tax funds and then promptly forget about the problem and move to something else as if the problem will solve itself without strong ledership"

We need a strong voice for citizen's concerns on City Council. Join me and make history in Charlottesville. To do this we need to contact all our friends and neighbors, twitter, and get on facebook, and spread the word to elect Bob on Nov. 3rd. I appreciate all Mayor Norris has done to advance the dredging discussion and his opposition to the Parkway, and am sure, as is Peter Kleeman, that he will easily be re-elected. but we will only elect Bob Fenwick if we pull off an upset, and make an effort to vote for what is best for Charlottesville.

We are all busy, but this may be the most important vote you ever cast to save what we love most about our city. Let's do it together and show that we are not divided, but can support an independent for Council and elect Bob.

Ms Mooney, thank you for sharing. Your advocacy and involvement is a genuine testament to Bob's fine platform.

sassy, I say you wrong. Have you seen this other land? I think the parkland that is being lost was not used by the public enough to justify the hue and cry. I get more parkland and the road I want- it's better than fair in my book

diagoliv, As they say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Yes, I have seen the land. Anyone with a sense of taste would agree, the land is undesirable. You suggest I am wrong. Are you wearing a blindfold?

Bob's platform is far more than the parkway or the water and solid waste issue, although his approach for these issues alone could save hundreds of millions of dollars for city rate payers, and prevent their water and sewer bills from doubling.

I have knocked on hundreds of doors, and city residents, of all persuasions, feel their concerns are being shelved and dismissed by the City Manager and Office of Neighborhood Development, and that Council is doing little to intervene, or be their ally in these matters. They also feel that decisions are being made be a small minority and that they are not being consulted and when they speak up they are often ignored. Even if they are listened to, nothing changes.


Seriously is on target.

Seriously, So it is ok for you to throw your own bully jabs at others? I suggest go for a "reality check". You are unbelievable. By the way, Good luck Bob.

"Seriously? Bully",I care not you disagree or as you make your pathetic attempt to slam. The reality, some happenings in the city interconnect, whether you like it or not. It is very obvious to anyone with eyes, local Dems are jumping ship.
One huge reason Fenwick,others have worked so hard, Those akin to McKeever are floundering in getting important matters accomplished. You sound as a spoiled brat when someone steps on a toe. By the way, tell us about your own upbringing. Your negativity is astounding.

Annoyed, Fenwick will hold firm in defending city interests.He will protect city properties more than any other officials.

diagoliv, Prob is, the replacement land is total crap and undesirable real estate. Certainly not a fair swap.

dont vote for norris!!!!! straight up cville! dont ruin our city economy even more!

Don't forget Rob Schilling. He and Kevin Lynch have been outspoken about this. I agree Chinatown--Part 2. What they are doing to Peter Van der Linde makes me sick !

OKie girl, some of the dumbest people on Council have been ' business owners.' Being a business owner doesn't give people squat in wider horizons or experiences. Look at our current chiropractor sitting there without a bloody clue.

One look at Wall Street Bank bailouts should tell you that business people often don;t know how to run their businesses.

I'de love to get a few academics on once in a while.

The on thing about Bob Fenwick is a) he has a real plan and b) he has had to manage large public funds as a project manager.

One situation puzzles me. Why would Mckeever, who took a case before a judge and made claims the parkway was horrific, cast an edgy cut toward the one person who would change the votes to fight the parkway she opposes? I don't get it. The democrats in Charlottesville must have imposed a powerful spell on some. They remind me of the Scientologists. Who in their right mind would even care they are not invited to the December meeting? Fenwick will make a difference for the city,far beyond the democratic party.
From what I'm hearing far and wide, Deeds has no chance in winning. Wouldn't that cause democrats to stay home on election day. The good news, Fenwick will take Szakos votes.

Lisa, Did Obama win on a slogan "Change you can believe in". Maybe thats why our federal budget is soaring. AH you Democrats! Give it up and become an Independent.

Every election I end up saying "The voters of Charlottesville have gotten exactly what they deserve."

C'ville Dem, have you talked with Bob Fenwick or looked at his web site? He is more progressive than Kristin Szakos by far.
He has been the most vocal opponent of the current water plan, which will involve flooding the Ragged Mountain Natural Area, building a 9-mile uphill pipeline, and abandoning the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, all at an unknown cost (estimates have ranged from $200 million on up, to be paid by increasing water rates in Charlottesville and the urban ring of the county). And keep in mind that the city doesn't need more water--this is all for use by the county!

Fenwick, who served seven years in the Army Corps of Engineers, has studied the problem carefully and is convinced that dredging the existing South Rivanna Reservoir can play a major role in supplying water to our area for years to come, without the need to build new expensive and environmentally damaging infrastructure. Kristin Szakos says she is willing to do a study of dredging, but has made her pro-plan position clear. On her website she writes, ââ?¬Å?I don’t think we should revisit the decision about abandoning the pipeline from the Sugar Hollow reservoir, and I believe the Ragged Mountain reservoir is an appropriate place to look for increased capacity and storage.” She has maintained this position despite strong evidence that the current water plan is based on faulty projections about water use and misleading cost estimates.

I am a long-time Democrat who will be voting for Bob Fenwick. And I am persuaded by the single shot argument.

Nothing very meaningful. The parkway is practically a done deal. You might as well stick a fork in her...

It doesn't appear that most city residents agreed with Fenwick on these issues.

sassy (aka plop), your comment, per usual, is bullying and amply illustrates a serious lack of breeding. Typical of the wacky attitude of quite a few Fenwick supporters-- if someone disagrees with them on just one point, then they are completely demonized. You and your pals were only too glad to have a lawyer take on the case, but that lawyer dares utter one word against your precious Bobby and she's dead to you.

I'm an Independent, and there is nothing-- I repeat NOTHING-- that Mr Fenwick has said or shown that tells me he will be effective on Council. I hear lots of blah blah blah, and watched a few publicity stunts, but have seen very little follow through. Many people agree with me on that.

Norris is going to get elected, no matter what you do. So the best option is to definitely NOT vote for Simple Szakos.

Fenwick/Norris 2009!

My hope is that someday we will elect our Mayor, to provide a counterweight to the City Manager, and that all candidates will run without party affiliation. It is important in a town as small as Charlottesville that we have a diversity of viewpoints on Council. Having one party in control lessens the opportunity for all citizens to have a voice in their government. We will all benefit if we elect independent Bob Fenwick and work to make changes in the way our city is governed.

Fenwick's involvement in technical issues could be invaluable to the citizenry. The pipeline alone from Rivanna to Ragged mountain could fund the dredging. In another twenty years the reservoir will be a dying mess because of the bio mass. Fenwick listens we need people like him for housing issues, business development and private enterprise over government. I love living in this city but I am terrified the democrats will tax me and the rest of the middle class out in their quick solution thoughtless enterprises. I do not see Szakos adding any substance.

The city government is a dysfunctional mess. Old timers say they have never seen it so bad. Not a good idea to give one party a lock on power.

Bub Fenwick for President!

Heh... I didn't even read Kleeman's comments in the article. Well, he agrees with me! :-)

I will be voting for Bob. The parks we may lose will never be replaced. I hope he can do something.

Bob Fenwick has discussed issues that effect all citizens. He can think and solve problems, that is what engineers do. This election will determine who will be on City Council to solve problems. As Fenwick said, "POWER & MAGIC, the power to vote, the magic occurs when you close the curtain and only you know for whom you vote".

Single Shot, single vote for Fenwick

Meet Bob Fenwick tonight at Milano 5:30 - 7:30, and the diverse group of Democrats, Republicans and Independents that are supporting his candidacy. This is a grassroots movement to elect the first Independent since 1936. In the age of twitter, facebook, e-mail, and good all fashioned conversations, I believe together we can elect Bob.

Dick Howard, in endorsing Bob, has said:

" I care deeply about the city and its citizens. Bob understands the issues that will shape the future of our community, he listens, he thinks, he makes sound judgments."

Please join us to bring a strong, independent, advocate for the people to City Council. We hope to see you tonight at Milano
100 W. South Street for an evening of fun and community.

sassy, I threw no bully jabs. I happen to dislike the nasty way you continually speak about people you disagree with. If you don't like that, that's too bad.

As a conservative, I'd be thrilled if a strong Independent or real Republican had run, or if Fenwick was more than hot air... therefore, I'm writing in a candidate this year.

Fenwick questions.
I have decided to single-shot after listening to Betty Mooney on the radio. No, fickle me has changed my mind. I shall be wring-in Betty Mooney also. Thanks, Betty.

Calling all Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, this is our chance to turn a page in Charlottesville history and elect a candidate. who I truly believe, will protect city residents: their pocketbooks, parks, reservoirs, and neighborhoods. Bob is a businessman and a leader. He knows how to listen, think, and find solutions to the many problems we are facing. On Tuesday, no matter what party you are from, do what's best for Charlottesville and vote for Bob.

Single shot voting is not illegal as Jennifer McKeever makes clear in this article. Luckily, we live in a democracy where we can cast a vote for the person who will best represent us on our governing body. On Tuesday each of us will make a decision -- who will best preserve and protect the City of Charlottesville and provide a strong advocate for the citizens.

The Democrats will lose at least 1 seat on council tomorrow if they aren't careful. i think it's gonna be szakos. if norris loses there will be blood on their hands. they messed up bad. Deeds is going to lose unless Mcdonnell does something so bad that all will vote for deeds. Toscano is going to be fine. 3 of the 4 consitutional officers will be fine it's the sheriff i am concerned about the democrat running loses it'll be a very ugly night in cville. period!

"... it’ll be a very ugly night in cville. period!" Can you make this clearer?

Once Norris, Edwards, and Szakos get through doubling the number of public housing units in the City they will be able to form a dynasty.
With Thomas unseating of Slutzky, maybe we won't run full steam ahead on a regional transportation authority.