Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Campaigns Take Center Stage: Szakos, Slutzky, Fenwick, Thomas, Et Als.

Elections are in six days, and the local races are definitely taking center stage:
  • Yesterday, C-Ville came out with a special issue devoted to the elections (their interviews with City Council candidates are here), and WINA is running lots of testimonials and political ads (Jay James's voice is finally getting a break -- he has been the voiceover for tons of ads the past several months). Creigh Deeds is on the cover of C-Ville's special issue, and I'm curious to see which local pol will get the cover spotlight on The Hook's issue tomorrow.

  • Cynthia Neff's got an ad on television where she says it's time to get to work, and I saw my first Rob Bell spot last night. I can't figure out if Neff has a shot at unseating Bell - clearly the County has moved left in the past decade, but I imagine that Bob McDonnell will have big coattails this year (unless Deeds can stoke some last minute momentum), and that will help Republican candidates across the board.

  • In one of the more surprising media/political developments, the Progress endorsed David Slutzky in the Rio District race -- I'd have expected the paper to be more on board with Rodney Thomas's pro-growth message. Slutzky is definitely the most consistently "outside the box" thinker of the local politicians, so perhaps the Progress calculates that more Slutzky = more news?

  • All of the supervisor candidates are talking about land use taxation, spurred on no doubt by Slutzky's stated willingness to consider limiting the program to owners whose land is put under conservation easement.

  • None of the City Council candidates are talking about the Meadowcreek Parkway as much as I'd have expected. I assume the political calculus is that you gain as many votes as you lose if you come down strongly on either side of the Parkway debate, thus better to remain vague.
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I am most-focused on the City Council race. I am very curious as to how Bob Fenwick will do; seems like he's kept his name in the headlines (he's continuing to pound on the RSWA/Van der Linde lawsuit), and it might be that he attracts voters who want a dissonant voice on Council.

With respect to city issues, I've been thinking a lot recently about traffic control. The speed of cars in downtown Charlottesville seems absolutely out-of-control right now.

The new crosswalk (with flashing lights) in front of the main branch of the library is helpful, but pedestrians are almost completely ignored at many of the other crosswalks downtown. It seems to me that another accident (like the one on 4th and West Main a couple of years ago) is unavoidable unless the city tackles the issue more comprehensively. For this reason, I was psyched to hear that Kristin Szakos is advocating for speed bumps (Rachana Dixit has the story in the Progress, here) - it's not a sexy issue like McIntire Park or dredging (can dredging be sexy?), but it sure is relevant.

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