Stratton Salidis envisions a pedestrian-oriented world. Should someone want to contribute to his candidacy for City Council (no one has yet), he’d prefer the donation be made to Alternatives to Paving, an organization he founded.
Critics have accused Salidis of being a one-issue candidate.
“Untrue,” he replies, listing other areas of interest: Trade Local, the promotors of locally owned property and businesses, as well as self-directed education.
Following his chat with The Hook, Salidis emails a fuller answer to the charge that his campaign has only one focus.
“Pedestrian-oriented development,” he says, “is a goal which aids many others, such as ecological health, energy efficiency, and the empowerment of the young, elderly, disabled, and economically disadvantaged.”
It should come as no surprise that Salidis, 32, does not own a car. And in this, his second run for City Council— he pulled in 317 votes last time— he seems to assess realistically his chances of winning, admitting that Mayor Blake Caravati and Alexandria Searls are more likely to be elected.
“Frankly, I’m ambivalent about winning,” he acknowledges. “If I did win, I’d do it wholeheartedly.”
So why run? Salidis wants to focus attention on the— ahem— one issue of “redirecting government from inducing sprawl to encouraging pedestrian-oriented development,” he says. And he thinks the best way to do that is to keep running for office.
Perhaps it was his childhood in the suburbs of Philadelphia that led Salidis to his zeal for transportation issues. “They were bland,” he says of his surroundings. “I couldn’t get out of my house without my mom. There was nowhere to bike. It isolates people— the old, the disabled, the car-less.”
Salidis followed some of his siblings to Charlottesville, and its cultural and political aspects appeal to him. “It’s not too screwed up yet,” he says, except for 29 North.
A musician— like Republican candidate Rob Schilling, he plays the guitar— and a teacher, Salidis has worked at the Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts, in Live Arts Summer Theater, and at the Charlottesville Writing Center, where he taught a songwriting class which capitalized on his knack for improvisational songwriting. He also played Judas in Live Arts’ Jesus Christ Superstar.
But the talk keeps coming back to alternatives to paving. Basically Salidis would like to see the road between the University and the Downtown Mall become an extended pedestrian mall. “Instead of roads and parking lots, let’s redirect spending for bike lanes and community transportation,” e.g., buses and light rail trains, he says.
He also advocates human-scale land use. That means mixed use— people of different income levels living, working and shopping in the same area. “Land use is the chief mechanism for segregation,” he says. “That segregation boosts property values, and that exclusivity is a commodity.”
Yet another platform is regional government: he’d like to see Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the surrounding counties joining up on land use, transportation planning, and collective zoning, creating “a unified voice” for state and federal funding.
And how would Salidis achieve his goals on the City Council? “I’d vote down the Meadowcreek Parkway,” he says.
Last election, Salidis spent $64 on his campaign. So far this year, he’s spent nothing— yet he believes he’s achieving his goal. “What I am doing is coming up with an alternative vision,” he says.
Sounds like it could be an improvisational tune.Read more on: stratton salidis