HOTSEAT- The funeral singer: And Joseph's other coats of many colors

Marcia Joseph

Don't make the mistake of calling Marcia Joseph's diminutive donkeys, Zorro and Jellybean, dwarfs. "They're miniatures," she insists, and they're part of the reason she ended up on 11 acres in Keswick.

"I moved here because I wanted to be Mother Earth," she explains. "I wanted to be in an area where I could have my animals without bothering people."

 Joseph's appreciation of the rural area is one of the reasons she's running for the Rivanna seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, now held by Republican Ken Boyd. "I've watched this place change since I've been here, and I want to be involved, because it's going to be different," she says. 

Now in her fourth year on the Albemarle Planning Commission, she's already had a hand in shaping future county development: as chairman the past two years, she's the one who bangs the gavel when discussion gets a little too heated. 

 When she's not spending 10 to 20 hours a week on Commission work, Joseph's day job is landscape architect and planner. And her interest in the landscape started early. "I can remember stopping at the florist on my way home from school," she recalls. "I was always intrigued by plants."

A landscape faux pas that makes Joseph cringe: "People like me who don't maintain their yards."

And the shocking truth is– sometimes the lawns of landscape architects may be overdue for a cut. They can't always stop their crab apple tree from being eaten by Japanese beetles. And they don't know how to diagnose plant diseases, she admits.

 Now a consultant, Joseph has been employed in Albemarle's planning department twice and as a zoning administrator for Charlottesville. She also did stints on the county's Architectural Review Board, as well as the agricultural/forestal and Acquisition of Conservation Easements committees.

Joseph's volunteer activities aren't limited to planning. Sundays find her raising her voice at Grace Episcopal Church– on Bluegrass Sunday. And Irish Sunday. And Gospel Sunday. In fact, she was asked by a parishioner to sing "When the Saints Go Marching In" at her funeral, and when the woman died a few weeks ago, Joseph added a reggae version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

Initially, she was concerned about how the family would react to this atypical Episcopalian fare, but in the end, "It was the way a funeral should be, celebrating a life," she says.

As time inexorably marches on to November, no "Joseph for Supervisor" signs yet adorn her yard. "I'm planning on a crescendo," she explains in musician-appropriate metaphor.

We just hope the Democratic candidate's campaign finds a role for Zorro and Jellybean.

Age:  56

Why here? I moved here in 1984 when my ex-husband accepted a job with GE Fanuc. It's the character of this place that's so special that made me want to stay here and help work to protect it.  

What's worst about living here? Humidity and increasing traffic

Favorite hangout? Downtown Mall

Most overrated virtue? Moderation

People would be surprised to know: My other car is a 1983 Dodge Ram truck named "the Beast."

What would you change about yourself? I'd be a little less self-critical.

Proudest accomplishment? Organizing transportation and accommodations for about 60 local volunteers to travel and work over Thanksgiving week (2006) to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans.

People find most annoying about you: strong opinions

Whom do you admire? Bill Gates, for using his money to help people around the world

Favorite book? A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. It is a book that was rejected by many publishers until Walker Percy read it and had it published. The book went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Subject that causes you to rant? The arrogant abuse of power we are currently seeing in elected officials, including ignoring the existing rules and adopting the attitude that the less the people know about what goes on, the better

Biggest 21st-century thrill? Instant visual communication

Biggest 21st-century creep out? The erosion of personal privacy, for instance, 24-hour surveillance cameras everywhere in Great Britain

What do you drive? 2001 VW diesel Golf

In your car CD player right now: I listen to the radio, WNRN.

Next journey? I'm contemplating Madrid in November.

Most trouble you've ever gotten in? I tried to fix my plumbing last summer. What started out as a pinhole leak moved quickly into a major replacement project. The thrill of using a wrench properly turned to terror as I managed to pull the intake pipe away from the wall. I had to admit I have no skills when it comes to plumbing.

Regret: Not being fluent in more than one language

Favorite comfort food: Homemade pizza, and probably the comfort is more in the actual preparation than the consuming.

Always in your refrigerator: Peanut butter

Must-see TV: Sunday Night Football

Favorite cartoon: Bugs Bunny in "The Barber of Seville"

Describe a perfect day. Since my kids live out of town, it would be a day when they were both here having breakfast with me and discussing the items in the morning newspaper.

Walter Mitty fantasy: Singing at half time at the Super Bowl

Who'd play you in the movie? Judy Garland

Most embarrassing moment? It's probably that Frank Zappa thing.

Best advice you ever got? From my sister, the advice that it's all about attitude. You are always in control of that.

Favorite bumper sticker? Is the climate changing, or is it just me?