Site clean-up: Slutzky vies for Rio seat

Cyanide poisoning ultimately proved to be a good thing for David Slutzky, and led to the formation of his successful environmental clean-up company.

In the early 1980s, he was working for a commercial real estate company in Chicago. A colleague did a walk-through in a plating plant– then spent the next three days in the hospital with cyanide poisoning.

"I figured out a whole industry was needed to clean up these sites," says Slutzky. And he wanted to go a step further than standard EPA practice, which at the time was to clean up Superfund sites and leave them. "We argued you should clean them up and make them available for re-use," he explains.

Slutzky is walking the walk: He's getting ready to move his environmental consulting company, E2 Inc., to the Frank Ix Building– even though that former industrial structure is not contaminated. He checked.

And after working with government throughout his career, including a stint as a senior policy advisor during the Clinton administration, Slutzky wants to shift from the appointed to the elected.

His flip answer to why he's running for the Albemarle Board of Supervisors: "I got tired of people misspelling my name."

More seriously, "I've been in Albemarle long enough to see things," he says of his decision to run as the Democratic candidate for the Rio seat, the county's most urban district. He's facing Republican Gary Grant and independent Tom Jakubowski.

Slutzky thinks his experience, which includes lecturing at UVA's Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, makes him well suited to shepherd Albemarle through its inevitable growth.

Like so many others, Slutzky and his wife fell for the area's charms and moved here in 1993. They'd sold their business in Chicago (that scrubbed contaminated buildings), and were looking at three years of a non-compete clause.

His wife, Melissa, a horse person, found Chicago too cold, says her husband. Cincinnati-born Slutzky, a self-proclaimed city boy, admits that when they first moved here, living in the middle of the country "scared me."

Now he wants to protect the same pastoral areas that used to give him the willies. Albemarle's comprehensive plan is "a very strong signal the community wants to preserve the rural area," he says.

The problem, he believes, is that the comprehensive plan doesn't spell out in detail what's required of developers, other than density, and it takes so long to get approval in a growth area, that it's easier to build by-right in the rural areas.

"We don't make it any easier for a developer," he says. "I don't want to see tract McMansions in the rural area."