Educator announces plans for City Council run

Current Charlottesville City School Board member and teacher Colette Blount announced Wednesday at Burley Middle School her plans to run for a seat on Charlottesville City Council along with 10 other candidates.

Blount, backed by Charlottesville mayor Dave Norris and City Council candidate Dede Smith, stressed the importance of educating all members of the community and enhancing dialogue between educators and politicians.

Blount joins the crowded Council race, facing fellow Democrats Kathy Galvin, Paul Beyer, Brevy Cannon, James Halfaday, Smith, and incumbent Satyendra Huja at the August 20 Democratic firehouse primary. Independents Brandon Collins, Andrew Williams, Scott Bandy, and Bob Fenwick will vie for votes at the polls November 8.


Norris the red has his puppets selected. I'm proud to be African-American yet saddened to see how gullible she is.

It does look like puppetry and that would be sad to me as well. Can't remember a time in Cville where a sitting Mayor organized candidates for a ticket just because of being angry about a previous issue, its beneath him, I hope he's better than that, I believe he is. Just think of the possible consequences for the future interactions.

She's just inexperienced and is perhaps listening to the wrong people because of that. I hope she figures it out and gets some distance from the other puppets who are not in her league and the folks telling her what to do. She can win on her own without any help from anyone else. She has great character and good ideas.

Why the "puppetry" comment? Just because she has support from the Mayor? I would not assume that she is going to be Dave Norris's puppet just because Dave supports her. If there was some indication that Dave had chosen to back Collette from among a group of interested African-American candidates because she had agreed to back his views on water issues, for example, your comment would be justified. But that is not what happened.

It is no secret that the Democratic Party leadership -- including the Mayor -- wanted an African-American candidate. After all, African-Americans make up about 20% of the city, and it would be really unfortunate if we had no African-American on Council. Collette was persuaded to run when no other African-American was willing to. Collette is smart, and I doubt that she will be anyone's "puppet."

@cvllelaw The Mayor has organized the puppets for his ticket. Norris the red recruited his candidates. Collete is just that INEXPERIENCED and appears to like to be told what to do. Admit she is INEXPERIENCED in city government affairs and I will vote for her. I am African-American and do not support her. Norris puppetry at its finest yet cville is so naive.

Did Dave Norris support Kristin Szakos when she ran for the nomination ? She doesn't appear to be a puppet.

@TJ: "Did Dave Norris support Kristin Szakos when she ran for the nomination ? She doesn't appear to be a puppet."

Though Szakos seems to have grown a spine of late over water and roads, shortly after her election she certainly did Norris' bidding by helping to forever commit the city budget to a dedicated funding stream for low income housing - something to which Julian Taliagerro would not have agreed.

Oops... Taliaferro

cvllelaw "African-Americans make up about 20% of the city, and it would be really unfortunate if we had no African-American on Council. Collette was persuaded to run when no other African-American was willing to." Why? Is she supposed to represent black people or be the Democratic Party's black person, since Andrew Williams is running again this year as an Independent who is also black? If he is ev entually elected, is he supposed to represent black people who live in the city? If so, why is non-blacks allowed to vote for or against the black representative? Why are all seats voted upon city-wide but the elected official is not supposed to represent the majority of the voters? Does this sound ridiculous to anyone? If anyone is interested in the history of blacks serving on Council, here is a very interesting article on the Democratic Party's role.

Very interesting article indeed Cville Eye. Thanks!

Cville Eye: I read the article you cited. While I can't attest to the accuracy of the facts, I find, based on my experience with local politics over the years, that it is a very plausible explanation of our political culture in this town with implications for our current election. Who wrote that piece?

Our City has vestiges of the old Southern traditional political culture in which a few elites are the authorized power brokers of a patronage system, like the feudal lords of the manors. That seems the way the Democratic (and probably Republican) party operates in this town. Regular people are not welcome at the table and are considered merely pests in centralized control.

During the Griffin debacle, some citizens asked for accountability. It was the City Council that had appointed the school board that made all the horrible decisions and trouble. The City Council was reticent to intervene and behind them was a small group running the Dem. party that, was too proud to admit failure and they, rather than admit policy failure, went after and maligned parents who were critical of the Supt. inflaming racial tensions. The School Board chair at the time even went so far as to get an old time dem (mentioned in your referenced article as one who manipulated the ward referendum process) to chair the ultimate crisis meeting at the School Board, and he merely inflamed the problem. None of could figure out why the school board chair had ceded control of the meeting to a democratic party operative? The voters finally got a referendum on an elected school board passed in disgust of dem party mismanagement of that issue.

If your article is historically accurate, the race-election-ward issue is still very alive today. I see indications of what the article posits as dem control over minority candidates. I think if I were Blount I would switch to running as an (I) rather than dropping out as Johnson did. She could win without being managed by any party and then be free to vote her conscience. If your article is accurate, being the annointed one by the dem. party must be kinda weird and controlling.

I wish the NAACP would weigh in on these issues.

We have to get beyond this old model of a few people running things from back rooms. Perhaps we should have more referendums on issues. Thoughts?

I don't see anyone controlling how the Councilors vote. Holly Edwards certainly was not beholden to anyone, nor is Mayor Norris. This time we have many well qualified, smart candidates and I believe the voters will decide this election based on the candidates background experience and the issues they have highlighted.

@TJ, "This time we have many well qualified..." quick question and I hope for a quick answer: what candidates have experience establishing a multi-million dollar budget and have demonstrated a more-than-superficial knowledge of public issues or have demonstrated a capability of arriving at solutions to public problems?
@Citizen Party, I have not forgotten your questions and will get back.

Point is she was persuaded to run, if you want something you know its in your heart then you do it. Persuaded is just the hardcore fact that she is norris the reds puppet. Big difference on wanting to run verses being persuaded to run. I am african american and I know the difference

While I do not doubt Dave Norris' hand in Collete Blount's decision to run, let's not read too much into this and start conjuring larger "Democratic" conspiracies at play. Everyone needs to remember that, despite being Mayor, Norris does not speak for or control the Democratic Party in this town - nobody does. In fact, he has from time to time displayed contempt for the Party itself (or at least for those often maligned here as the "old guard").

The problem with Schilling is his tendency to see (imagine?) conspiracy theories anywhere the Democratic Party is involved.

"Big difference on wanting to run verses being persuaded to run. I am african american and I know the difference"

That's one of the most ridiculous comments I've ever seen.

There is nothing unusual, unprecedented, inappropriate or unethical about candidates for local office running as slates, whether formal or informal, be it the McIntosh slate of Huja, Galvin + Beyer, the Norris slate of Smith, Cannon + Blount, or choose your own configuration. Further, there is nothing unusual, unprecedented, inappropriate or unethical about elected officials or other community leaders supporting candidates in the primary. Voters should judge each of the candidates on his/her own merits and decide for themselves which candidates best represent their values.

I agree with "Fact is". Leaving out the rhetoric at least you know Huja, Galvin and Beyer are for the current water plan and the Meadowcreek Parkway and Smith, Cannon and Blount are against. So it should be interesting as to which side wins. Less known are the Court Clerks. Garrett for another 6 years/. Two sisters controlling both Court houses? Dugger? (sp?) In Wise County at the tip of true country Va. not only can you look up cases on line you can E-file all Court cases like Federal Court. C-ville is so behind Computer wise you cannot even look up a case on line. We are more like Wise County up here (computer wise) and Wise County is like Charlottesviile should be.

@fact is: I don't think there is any slate of Galvin-Huja-Byer but it is increasingly clear there will be one of Smith-Cannon-Blount, backed by Norris who apparently quit his day job to run this campaign full time. Their actions are turning this election into an us-them contest over a narrow set of issues. And I would encourage people to look at these individuals and their past record individually and closely. I think Smith is going to drag the rest of them down and bleed votes from them.

Point there being I can trust Galvin, Huja and Byer to be independent and not turn into a Junta with Norris. The latter group comes off as power hungry and ideologically driven. Fact is, I can't remember when a sitting mayor ever engaged in these kinds of politics which I find unusual and unprecedented and while there may be nothing unethical about it, it sure might pose problems if Mayor Norris has to serve with Galvin, Beyer or Huja, it would just exacerbate the culture of conflict that is developing leading to accusations of people in the County that Cville is a do-nothing, dysfunctional, navel gazing government.

Besides, hasn't the county already decided to dredge? Problem solved.

@ Sam, I don't actually know that Huja, Galvin, and Beyer are for the current water plan and Meadowcreek Pkwy. I know the others mentioned are against it and are hell bent on overturning it. I know that some of them and their tactics alienate people in the County poisoning intergovernmental cooperation. And as someone else has already blogged, if thats what its all about, why don;t they just run a referendum and stop polluting this election from focusing on other problems in town that are perhaps more prescient than those already decided by due process.

Why don't issues of race relations, poverty, and equity ever get the level of commitment and passion that Norris, Smith, Cannon, and Blount are giving the water and parkway issues? I know Szakos is committed to these types of issues, has Mayor Norris lost perspective? Something doesn't smell right. When does the new gaurd get co-opted and start looking and acting like the old guard?

I would encourage people voting to vote against any junta like behavior.

Citizen Party, first there is no shame, none, in undoing an awful and extremely unpopular decision before it's been implemented, to prevent unnecessarily high water rate increases and to save a natural area from needless destruction. Many people in town are hoping the next council does just that.

Having said that, I encourage you to listen to the Smith and Blount and Cannon announcement speeches. If they were only running to push a better water supply solution and stop the parkway don't you think those issues would have been front and center in their speeches or on their websites? Do yourself a favor and speak directly with Dede and Brevy and Colette and you will see that they are HARDLY focusing their campaigns on those issues only. If at all. Your conspiracy theories don't hold water. Obviously the establishment Dems are scared to death that they might finally lose their grip on power and are resorting to nonsense.

@Fact is,

You really got it wrong if you think I represent establishment dems. Couldn't be further off the mark. In fact what has worried the most is that they have been showing up to Smith and Blount's announcements. From what I have seen it looks like water and parkway are the lynchpins of their campaigns and the other stuff is window dressing. I could be wrong, but it sure looks like this election is being framed as water and parkway litmus tests.

from Daily Progress (Published: April 17, 2011):

"Here are some questions for the city Dems: Will they field a unified set of candidates as they did four years ago, with a broad platform of issues? Or will they field candidates who are mostly running with their Exocet missiles targeted exclusively on the 50-year water supply plan and Meadow Creek Parkway?

From CvilleTomorrow (By Brian Wheeler Charlottesville Tomorrow Wednesday, June 29, 2011):

"Norris, a Democrat, has now made appearances supporting three of the seven candidates running for the party’s nomination. Besides Blount, Norris has also appeared with council candidates Dede Smith and Brevy Cannon, both of whom stood with Blount."

As far as front and center on websites and speeches, some agendas don't need to be front and center to be driving agendas. I was just concerned because Norris and Lynch introduced Cannon and it smells like water and parkway, so I will ask or someone will ask him for clarification on those and I'll give him the benefit as you suggest. With Smith, well that's too obvious to even bother with. But look at Brian Wheeler's interview with Blount-its fromt and center there.

From CvilleTomorrow:
"Blount said had she been on city council earlier this year that she would have supported dredging as opposed to building a new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

In February, City Council approved, by a 3-2 vote, the construction of a new earthen dam as part of the fifty-year community water supply plan. Blount said she would be willing to revisit that decision on the water plan if, after reviewing more data, she determined that there was a better plan.

On the Meadow Creek Parkway, Blount pointed out that she had already voted against the parkway as a member of the school board when city-owned land at Charlottesville High School and CATEC was required for construction of the county’s portion of the road.

“I voted against the parkway on the principle that it would go through McIntire Park,” Blount said. "

I guess I just want to know: are Smith, Cannon, and Blount running on a joint ticket to over turn the parkway and and water decision? If each were elected would they a) vote for a reconsideration of these issues and b) vote to overturn the current Council decisions on these matters?

But we will have to see and to be fair I will take your advice and speak with them and watch the campaigns as they develop to test the hypothesis. And to be fair, a number of the independents running have the water and Pkway as their primary emphasis, so everyone wants to use it as a way in.

I think if it were "many people" that would have worked itself out during the process. Why didn't we see a petition with the "many" signatures before? This still smacks of two small groups of elites who disagree, fighting it out while other issues go unaddressed- I think that's where the shame is.

Schilling must be having a hoot with this. From what I am reading on the blogs the AA community is split bec. of democratic shenanigans, now the elites are split over the water supply and Parkway. Maybe Williams has a real shot this time.

@citizen party - I think that some of us are completely worn on out on the supposed race dialogue. Frankly, I am sick and tired of the City always finding money for public housing, or giving away its land and money to developers in exchange for loud music venues and minority museums, but can't seem to get its act together for things that affect us all.

Skyrocketing water rates, lost parks, building rubbish like the Parkway are projects that affect us all, and will hurt the least affluent the most. Everybody needs a the Belmont Bridge to be repaired, yet that conversation never gets front and center.

I find focusing on a wide community issue like the dam to be rather refreshing. Now if we can just go to doing that on a lot of other subjects as well.

puppets their all puppets

More local political figures, including Mayor Dave Norris, appear on Charlottesville's locally-produced interview program Politics Matters with host Jan Paynter:

Blount seems to be severly overated . Appearing with Dede puts a real caution in the air concerning her suitability to represent the broad interests of the City and greater area . Is she easily lead ? What other things can she be persuaded to do ? Can someone like this persuade people to vote for her ? This little group seems hell bent in having poor dysfunctional sour relations for the greater area . Civic government officials should work for the greater good of the broad areas as the basic problems flow across imaginary jurisdictions . By acting in uncoperative methods the costs for citizens in all jurisdictions rises higher than necessary while services decrease . The bunker mentality of dividing one area against the other for short term individual political gains is what is happening here . The issue might be water and roads now but another time small minded opportunistic grasping politicians would conviently ride another Trogan horse tp power. Too bad Blount has hooked up with this small minded narrow device to attempt to get on council .What a disapiontment .

I support african-americans on both the school board and city council. They may make up only twenty percent of the population. Yet, their children take up the majority of a classroom teacher's attention (ask any teacher), and they utilize the majority of local government social, judicial, and police resources. Thus, it makes sense they have adequate representation in government.

It only seems proper then that a-a's have the majority on council and the school board . Just a matter of persuading sufficient numbers to put their names forward . If there was a law mandating that a-a's were required to form the majority on both then it would no doubt be easier to persuade them to become candidates .

"enhancing dialogue between educators and politicians".........................

I would have thought that both of those types already had a dialogue- the educators are paid by the politicians and get what they want and still they have to spend more on

"educating all members of the community"

@Caesonia : You said: "Frankly, I am sick and tired of the City always finding money for public housing, or giving away its land and money to developers in exchange for loud music venues and minority museums, but can't seem to get its act together for things that affect us all."

"Public housing" and "minority museums" affect us all, they are good for us all. Money spent on these things is money to promote the well being of all our citizens and that is good for the commonweal. Too many wealthy and middle class folks in this community don't realize that the well being of the "have nots" makes us all better off. Read the Spirit Level by Wilson and Pickett. I wish the City Council would spend half as much on the Race Dialogue as it is proposing to spend on the parkway or the water solution.