The Charlottesville Electoral Board directed the city registrar’s office today to immediately submit campaign filings from former City Council candidate James Halfaday to the city Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office for investigation.
The board’s unanimous vote, which took place after it discussed the matter behind closed doors, comes after an attorney who said he represents the true owners of the local Snap Fitness franchise disputed Halfaday’s claims of having a stake in the gym. Halfaday represented himself as a co-owner of the gym when he launched his campaign in April, and he also included the claim in his campaign paperwork.
After a recount of the final round of ballots from Saturday’s Democratic firehouse primary, the three City Council nominees are unchanged: Satyendra Huja, Kathy Galvin and Dede Smith.
Huja and Galvin were nominated by wide margins in the first round of counting Saturday night, but it took five rounds to determine Smith as the winner of the third nomination.
Fourth-place finisher Paul Beyer, who trailed Smith by a margin of just 31 votes, had called on party officials to double-check the final count. The party heads granted his request, performing the recount Monday afternoon at the Independence Resource Center on Cherry Avenue.
Charlottesville could soon face a dilemma it hasn’t dealt with in more than 30 years: a City Council without a single black member.
The racial makeup of the Charlottesville City Council may not be cause for concern for everyone, but the results of Saturday’s firehouse primary have proven worrisome for the local Democratic Party.
On Saturday, city voters chose Satyendra Huja, Kathy Galvin and Dede Smith as the three Democratic nominees for City Council. Colette Blount, a city School Board member who was the only black candidate in the Democratic field, went down to defeat, finishing fifth in a field of seven.
Charlottesville’s Democratic Party was unusually divided heading into Saturday’s primary election, but it doesn’t appear the rift will be closing anytime soon.
Some city Democrats have called for unity after the hotly contested firehouse primary, but the post-election reactions of those active in local politics seem to signify anything but.
Satyendra Huja, Kathy Galvin and Dede Smith won the party’s three nominations to City Council in Saturday’s voting, but fourth-place finisher Paul Beyer has called for further verification of the results after trailing Smith by just 29 votes. Some see the result as a repudiation of Mayor Dave Norris’s strong support for candidates who largely share his views, while Norris says voters delivered a mixed verdict.
Local gym owner James Halfaday, who says he’s the first openly gay candidate to run for Charlottesville City Council, told The Daily Progress on Thursday that he’s received numerous anti-gay messages since announcing his candidacy, including defaced campaign fliers and disparaging remarks via Facebook.
Halfaday, one of seven Democrats who’ll compete for three City Council nominations in Saturday’s party primary, said one of his promotional fliers was returned to his campaign mailing address on Aug. 7 with his face crossed out and the message: “Democrat Don’t Want You Homo.”
Halfaday said he sought legal advice about the flier, but was told that it didn’t constitute a threat, so there was little he could do about it.
After a summer campaign season that has seen accusations fly about city politics sinking to new lows and insurgent candidates threatening a frightened party establishment, Charlottesville voters will soon have a chance to pick three City Council nominees to represent an unusually divided Democratic Party.
On Saturday, voters will choose the three nominees at the party’s firehouse primary, and Democratic organizers expect turnout to be high. During the first round of absentee voting on Aug. 9, 130 people showed up to cast a vote, compared with 49 in the 2009 election. Party organizers say there’s a high level of public interest this year.
The Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club endorsed two candidates for Charlottesville City Council Thursday, setting itself apart from other local environmental groups by endorsing candidates opposed to the plan to build a new earthen dam at Ragged Mountain Reservoir.
Tom Olivier, the group’s chairman, announced the endorsements of Democrats Dede Smith and Colette Blount at a news conference outside City Hall.
Smith, a former city School Board chair and co-founder of pro-dredging group Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan, and Blount, a teacher and current School Board member, are both opposed to the dam and the Meadow Creek Parkway.