Stratton Salidis disagrees that further debate about the water plan and Meadowcreek Parkway is a distraction.
Kathy Galvin elaborates on the "bunker mentality" of citizens who focus on a single issue, such as water.
PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE
Two former mayors joined City Council candidate Kathy Galvin at a press conference where she expressed concerns about the "tone of our local political debate" as the Democratic firehouse primary approaches that will likely determine who sits on Council.
"I fear we’ve come to a low point in our local discourse that sadly mirrors the rancorous rhetoric and paralysis evident at the federal level in DC," Galvin said August 1 on the Downtown Mall. "Some have unfortunately adopted a bunker mentality about a particular issue or issues, and espouse a 'my way or the highway' approach to politics and decision-making.
"This isn’t good for the Democratic Party and it isn’t good for Charlottesville," said Galvin. "We must change."
When asked about the "bunker mentality," Galvin pointed to the community water plan that pits dammers against dredgers. Galvin supports building a new dam, and building the Meadowcreek Parkway, another controversial local issue.
"We've already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies," she said. Meanwhile housing, jobs, public transportation and schools are other local issues that Galvin says need to be addressed.
"Our local politics should not tolerate bitter factionalism, pit neighbor against neighbor, neighborhood against neighborhood, and city against county," said Galvin.
The candidates in the August 20 Democratic firehouse primary have aligned over the water issue. Galvin, Paul Beyer, and incumbent Satyendra Huja favor the approved dam/pipeline plan; candidates Colette Blount, Brevy Cannon, James Halfaday, and Dede Smith favor dredging, as do at least four of the five independent candidates.
Former mayors Kay Slaughter and Blake Caravati showed up in support of Galvin. She also claimed the endorsement of former mayors Charles Barbour and Virginia Daugherty; former fire chief and councilor Julian Taliaferro, who has also endorsed candidate Halfaday and was unable to attend because of a heart attack; School Board members Ned Michie and Guian McKee; environmental activist Jason Halbert, and former school board member Peggy Van Yahres.
Not everyone at the press conference was a Galvin supporter. Transportation activist Stratton Salidis carried a couple of signs with messages such as, "Pumping the water uphill is smarter," a sarcastic commentary on the nine-mile pipeline that would be needed with a new dam to fill the increased capacity of the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.
“The point of this event is to portray the people trying to save McIntire Park and Ragged Mountain as distracting Council from other issues, but this assumes the parkway and big dam have been honestly discussed and agreed to, and this is far from the truth," says Salidis, a Blount and Smith supporter.
"I wanted to point out the discrepancy of saying you're green and spending tens of millions of dollars on unnecessary roads and a dam, which could go to meet real human needs," Salidis says.
The firehouse primary will be held Saturday, August 20, from 9am to 7pm at Burley Middle School. Voters who will be out of town on August 20 have two absentee balloting dates: from 5:30 to 8:30pm Tuesday, August 9, and Thursday, August 18, at the Independence Resource Center on Cherry Avenue.