Charlottesville City Council (2020-2021)

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Charlottesville City Council
Official city seal of Charlottesville

Charlottesville City Council (2022-2023)
Type: Unicameral (officially nonpartisan)
Electoral District Plurality-at-large
Term Start January 1, 2020
Term End December 31, 2021
Preceded by Charlottesville City Council (2018-2019)
Succeeded by Charlottesville City Council (2022-2023)

Last Election: 2019 election

Next Election: 2021 election

Biographical Information

Charlottesville City Hall, 605 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902

The Charlottesville City Council (2020-2021) served as the city's legislative body from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021 under the charter of the city, granted by the Legislature in 1946.

​​The City of Charlottesville has operated under a council-manager form of government since 1928 where members of the City Council serve four-year terms and are elected at-large on a staggered basis. The city manager is appointed by the council and acts as chief executive officer - implementing policies established by council. The mayor and vice-mayor are chosen by the council.

Following the 2019 election, held on November 5, 2019, three new members, Lloyd Snook, Sena Magill and Michael Payne, each took their oath of office on December 19, 2019, allowing them to assumed full duties immediately on January 1, 2020 and thereby filling the seats being vacated by Mike Signer, Wes Bellamy and Kathy Galvin who each declined to seek re-election.

  • Lloyd Snook's mother, Helen Snook (D) ran unsuccessfully for council in 1986.
  • Nikuyah Walker, a city employee,[1][2] [3]ran as an independent in the 2017 election. She became the first independent councilor since 1948.[4]

Council's organizational meeting

On January 6, 2020, Walker (I) was selected on a 3-2 vote for a second term as mayor at the bi-annual organizational meeting of the City Council. Walker and councilors Payne (D) and Magill (D) voted in favor of her appointment. Councilors Hill (D) and Snook (D) voted against it. New councilor Magill (D) was elected 4-1 as vice-mayor.[5]

Council appointments

City Council appoints the City Manager, the Director of Finance, the City Assessor, the Clerk of the Council and members of major policy-making Boards and Commissions. Council has an advisory role in appointing the City Attorney and the Chief of Police.

City Manager turnover

  1. Dr. Tarron Richardson, May 13, 2019 to September 30, 2020 (16 months, 17 days)
  2. John C. Blair, II, September 13, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  3. John C. Blair, II, October 1, 2020 to February 15, 2021 (acting city manager)
  4. Chip Boyles, February 15 to October 29, 2021 (8 months, 15 days)
  5. Marc Woolley, appointed Interim City Manager on November 5, 2021, set to begin December 1, 2021; withdrawal effective November 30, 2021.

Deputy City Manager

  • Deputy City Manager for REDI: Ashley Reynolds Marshall, since May 2021 (performed enhanced duties until an Interim City Manager was placed in 2022).
  • Deputy City Manager for Operations: Sam Sanders, since July 2021 (performed enhanced duties until an Interim City Manager was placed in 2022).

Director of Finance

Christopher Cullinan, since January 2015

City Assessor

Jeffrey S. Davis, since December 2015

Chief of Staff / Clerk of Council

Kyna Thomas, since January 28, 2019

Advisory appointments

(hired May 21, 2018; September 1, 2021, the city manager exercised his right to terminate Brackney’s employment contract, with 90 days’ notice. She was on paid administrative leave for 90 days, until November 30, 2021)[6]
In the fallout of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally, Walker was first appointed mayor with a 4-1 council vote in January 2018 [7] and is the first mayor to serve more than one term since Satyendra Huja stepped down in 2015. Walker received the most votes (29.13%) during the 2017 election for City Council.[8] Prior to the 1990's, the custom of the council was to select as mayor the most senior council member who had not already held the position. In the 2019 general election, Magill got the most amount of votes in history for a Charlottesville City Councilor. [9]

Key Issues facing Charlottesville City Council

COVID-19 Emergency

Starting in March 2020, City Council Chambers were closed to the public and meetings were conducted virtually via a Zoom webinar.

Albemarle County and Charlottesville declared local emergencies on March 12, 2020 in order to help coordinate public safety efforts to contain the spread of the disease. This gave officials more flexibility to conduct business and resulted in the temporary halt of public meetings as well as the delay of the adoption of the FY21 budget in Albemarle County. [10]

“I don’t think our current city logo reflects us as a city. We have changed. We have been reexamining who we are and I think a logo is pretty important with that.” Councilor Sena Magill, Nov 17, 2020

Statue of Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea

On Saturday, July 10th 2021, during an emergency/special meeting, the Charlottesville City Council voted unanimously to remove the city’s Lewis & Clark and Sacagawea.

On Saturday, July 10, 2021 Mayor Walker called a Special/Emergency Meeting to order at 12 p.m. to discuss removal of the Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea statue on West Main Street. The 5-0 vote comes after city crews removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson the same morning. Spectators lined the blocks surrounding the park, and a cheer went up as the Lee statue lifted off the pedestal.

Hiring a permanent city manager

On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, Charlottesville City Manager Chip Boyles resigned, effective Oct. 29, 2021. Boyles’ resignation comes after he received intense backlash from Mayor Nikuyah Walker and some community members for his decision to fire Police Chief Rashall Brackney.

November 5, 2021, the Charlottesville City Council announced Marc Woolley as the interim city manager. He starts December 1, 2021 and the city council will begin a public search process for hiring a permanent city manager. The city council will begin a public search process for hiring a permanent city manager in April 2022, according to a city announcement.[11]

On Tuesday, November 30, 2021 Charlottesville City Council held a Special/Emergency Meeting for the purpose of discussing the withdrawal of appointed Interim City Manager Mark Woolley. Mr. Woolley had reached out to Mayor Nikuyah Walker on Sunday, November 21st to verbally inform her of his decision to withdrawal his application as Interim City Manager. After Tuesday’s closed session meeting, Council stated that they are considering entering into a contract with a firm for interim services; deputy City Managers Ashley Marshall and Sam Sanders will continue to perform enhanced duties for the City until an Interim City Manager is placed.

Creation of an Affordable Housing Plan

Endorsed by the Council in March 2021

Updating Charlottesville’s Comprehensive Plan

Adopted November 2021

Government turnover

There has been high turnover in the leadership in Charlottesville in recent years. More than five high-ranking officials have either been fired or resigned. City Councilor Michael Payne called it a “leadership crisis.”

Hiring a new Police Chief

On September 1, 2021, City Manager Chip Boyles fired Police Chief RaShall Brackney.

High-profile lawsuits

  • Lawsuit over Statues of Confederate generals: The lawsuit, Payne v. Charlottesville, involves two Confederate statues located in the downtown part of the city.
  • Suit against the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan.
  • Former Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming she faced discrimination based on race and sex.
  • Former Charlottesville City Manager Tarron Richardson has filed a federal lawsuit against City Council as well as Mayor Nikuyah Walker, councilor Heather Hill, City Attorney Lisa Robertson and former City Attorney and former Interim City Manager John Blair for allegedly violating the First Amendment.

Tourism dollars

February 19, 2021: Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVACB) reported that transient occupancy tax revenue, which comes from people staying in area hotels, was drastically lower last year compared to previous years. Tourism normally creates more than $10 million during the summer and fall seasons. At the beginning of 2021, tourism dollars were behind by roughly $3 million. In 2018, 86 percent of business owners said they were seeing fewer tourists and 35 percent said they're seeing fewer local customers.

Belmont Bridge Replacement

Salaries & Compensations

$18,000 for councilors and $20,000 for the mayor. Charlottesville has one of the highest average salaries for council members in Virginia. State code sets salary limits for members of city councils based on population, ranging from $11,000 to $30,000. laws of the Commonwealth.

Fringe benefits

Medical and dental insurance coverage

In 2012, council voted to include themselves in the city’s employee medical and dental insurance coverage plans. Employees and councilors who already had medical insurance from another source were allowed to opt out of coverage and receive a $500 annual stipend paid over the course of the year. [12]

Council travel and spending

City-issued credit cards

Discretionary spending

Vision statement

FY2022 Budget (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022)

  • April 13, 2021: Charlottesville City Council adopts $192.2 million budget for fiscal year 2022. [13]

FY2021 Budget (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021)

  • January 19, 2021 – City Council's meeting included presentation of December (2020) sale numbers. The city is currently forecasting operating with a budget roughly $10M less than when it was adopted. Acting City Manager John Blair noted the situation could get better if the Biden Administration and Democratic-controlled Congress delivers on more relief. The city is operating on a $191.2 million budget for fiscal 2021, which started July 1, 2020.
  • June 1, 2020: During its virtual regular meeting on this Monday, city councilors unanimously signed off on the $191.2 million budget for fiscal 2021, which starts July 1, 2020.[14] The revised budget for FY21 reflects a loss in sales, meals and lodging tax revenue of $2.3 million. Projected revenues and expenditures that were presented in the originally proposed budget were reduced as a result of COVID-19. These reductions resulted in revenue projections falling from $196.6 million to $191.2 million. The city’s contribution to the school division was set at $58.6 million, a $1.3 million increase over FY20.
  • March 2, 2020 – Council proposed a total general fund expenditures of $196.6 million. This is a 4.11% increase from fiscal year 2020. [15] The proposed budget for FY21 had revenues for sales, meals and lodging taxes set at $31,950,505. This was an increase of $970,752 from the adopted FY20 $30,979,753 budget.

City’s Strategic Plan

Over the next year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021), Council will be reviewing the plan and making revisions and updates for future goals and budget alignment. Below are some highlights of expenditures included in the adopted FY2021 Budget budget that fall under the priorities of the Strategic Plan.

City Schools

  • $1.34M in new operational funding as well as a $3.4M investment in their capital program.

City Council Initiatives

Compensation and Benefits

  • Maintains level funding for employee compensation and benefits.
  • Fully funds the City’s Actuarial Retirement Contribution for the Retirement Fund, at a cost of $10.5 million in the General Fund.

2021 election

Elections for the Charlottesville City Council (2022-2022) will take place in 2021. Two of the five seats on the Council will be open. The Democratic primary will be held on June 8, 2021, and the general election will be held on November 2, 2021.

2019 election

Elections for the Charlottesville City Council (2020-2021) took place in 2019. Three of the five seats on the Council were open. The Democratic primary was held on June 11, 2019, and the general election was on November 5.

Council’s configuration & power

Since 1928, the council has been composed of five councilor members, one of whom serves as mayor. Each member is elected at-large, by voters to four-year, staggered terms.

Council president and vice-president

Charlottesville is a city manager-weak mayor form of local government, the positions of mayor and vice-mayor largely are ceremonial. The President of City Council (called mayor) and Vice-president (called vice-mayor) are elected by the five members of Council at the beginning of each two-year Council term and serves until the next election.

City Officers

Council's most significant role is to enact laws, to adopt the city's operating budget and to hire the City Manager to run most city operations. Council is in charge of policy oversight and also hires the Chief of Staff/Clerk of Council, Director of Finance and the Real Estate Assessor. Council has an advisory role in appointing the City Attorney [16]and the Chief of Police. Council also has the authority to decide who sits on various city boards and commissions. As a result, City Council has significant influence in shaping city policies and programs. Among the officers and clerks who have served at the pleasure of the Charlottesville City Council (2020-2021):

City Manager

Chief of Staff/Clerk of Council

Formerly referred to as the City Council Clerk, the position was expanded by the Charlottesville City Council (2018-2019) under the title of Chief of Staff / Clerk of Council[17].

School Board Members

The city has an elected at-large school board. Prior to 2006, members of the Charlottesville City School Board were appointed by the City Council.

City Council Standing Committee assignments (2020 – 2021)

Advisory City Council Committees

Most, but not all, of Council's standing committees are organized into specific policy areas. The committees each have a chair, vice chair and a minimum of 3 members. They consider policy areas that are directed to them by the Council. The committees report back to the full Council on their work. The standing committees have special rules for appointing leadership and members. All five Council members serve on the various Committees. City Council Committees do not replace the City Council as final decision makers on behalf of the full City Council.

Appointment of advisory boards, committees and commissions

refer to Main Article: List of Boards and Commissions

The City Council appoints various boards, commissions, and committees to support the City Council in the policymaking and decision making processes. One or two City Council members may serve on a committee as a representative of, or liaison to, the City Council.

Charlottesville City Council reviews Boards & Commissions applications on a quarterly basis after an opening has been posted for a minimum of 30 days, unless Council determines a vacancy needs to be filled sooner and a deadline is posted otherwise. Council may extend a deadline as necessary.

The appointment schedule for 2020 is as follows:

  • January 6, 2020
  • March 15, 2020 (application deadline March 6, 2020)
Current vacancies:
(1) Board of Architectural Review (Historian)
(3) Board of Zoning Appeals (Full-time Member & Alternate Members)
(1) CDBG Task Force (Belmont Community Representative)
(3) Charlottesville Economic Development Authority (CEDA)
(1) Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority
(2) Community Policy and Management Team (Parent Rep,. Private Provider Rep.)
(3) Housing Advisory Committee (Neighborhood Assoc. Rep., Banker Rep., At-Large)
(1) Monticello Area Community Action Agency Board (MACAA)
(1) Region Ten Community Services Board
(1) Retirement Commission (Community Member)
(2) Sister Cities Commission (Business Rep., Youth Rep.)
(2) Social Services Advisory Board
(3) Tree Commission
(2) Vendor Appeals Board Current vacancies (non City-employee)
Youth Council
  • June 15, 2020 (application deadline June 5, 2020)
  • September 21, 2020 (application deadline September 11, 2020)
  • December 21, 2020 (application deadline December 11, 2020)

The appointment schedule for 2021 is as follows:

  • March 15, 2021 (application deadline March 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.)
  • June 21, 2021 (application deadline June 11, 2021)
  • September 20, 2021 (application deadline September 15, 2021)
  • December 20, 2021 (application deadline December 15, 2021)

City Council Regular Meeting Schedule for 2020

Regularly scheduled Council meetings take place on the first and third Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall pursuant to Charlottesville City Code Section 2-41. If a regularly scheduled Council meeting falls on a holiday, then the meeting will take place on Tuesday. Council normally cancels one meeting during the summer months. In 2019, the Charlottesville City Council (2018-2019) cancelled its July 15 meeting. During the January 6, 2020 meeting, the current Council will discuss its preference for cancelling one of its summer meetings. If Council decides to cancel a meeting, the schedule will be amended to reflect the cancellation.

As of January 6, 2020, the proposed regular Council meeting schedule for 2020 was as follows:

  • Monday, January 6, 2020
  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020
  • February 3, 2020
  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020
  • March 2, 2020
  • March 16, 2020
  • April 6, 2020 - CANCELED
  • April 20, 2020 - Public hearings online *
Council held its first regular monthly meeting using a Virtual Meeting platform via Livestream (view only).
  • May 4, 2020 *
  • May 18, 2020 *
  • June 1, 2020 *
  • June 15, 2020 *
  • July 6, 2020 *
  • July 20, 2020 *
  • August 3, 2020 *
  • August 17, 2020 *
  • Tuesday, September 8, 2020 *
  • September 21, 2020 *
  • October 5, 2020 *
  • October 19, 2020 *
  • November 2, 2020 *
  • November 16, 2020 *
  • December 7, 2020 *
  • December 21, 2020 *
Italics indicate an adjusted date due to a holiday
Public hearings online *

Special meetings, closed meetings, and emergency meetings

According to Council Policies and Procedures [18] "Special meetings, closed meetings, and emergency meetings may be scheduled and held in addition to the schedule of regular meetings. Notification requirements for special meetings, closed meetings and emergency meetings are governed by the Virginia Code.

For special meetings, the purpose and nature of the meeting will dictate whether public comment will be allowed. Time for public comment may or may not be allocated depending on the nature of the meeting and at the discretion of Council."

City population

Population as of most recent census (April 1, 2010): 43,475

  • According to the current data from U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts, the estimated population in 2018 was 48,117, which represents a 10.67% population growth since the last census.
  • The area within the city limits was 10.27 square miles, giving it a population density of about 4,600 people per square mile. Relative to local populations, Charlottesville has one seat for every 8,700 residents.
  • As for historically under-represented groups, the city has about the same percentage of blacks in council as in the general populations; in Charlottesville, blacks makeup 18.3 percent of the population [19] and 20 percent of the council.

General notes

  • Elections are non-partisan elections.
  • The council post videos of council meetings online as well as searchable databases of legislation.
  • Council does not post members’ personal financial disclosure statements or lobbying records.

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  1. Hatch Act Compliance for Candidates Fact Sheet |publishdate=December 2020|accessdate=November 8, 2021
  2., D.C., or Local Employee Hatch Act Information U.S. Office of Special Counsel
  4. Web. First Independent since 1948 win election to Charlottesville City Council, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, November 7, 2017, retrieved November 8, 2017.
  5. Web. Walker to continue as Charlottesville mayor; Magill named vice mayor., Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises
  7. Web. Walker to continue as Charlottesville mayor; Magill named vice mayor, Nolan Stout,, The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, VA, January 6, 2020, retrieved February 5, 2020.
  8. Web. Walker to continue as Charlottesville mayor; Magill named vice mayor, Nolan Stout,, The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, VA, January 6, 2020, retrieved February 5, 2020.
  9. Web. Magill made history with most votes of any City Council candidate in history, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, November 10, 2019, retrieved November 12, 2019. Print. November 10, 2019 page A1.
  10. Web. Albemarle, Charlottesville declare local emergencies; schools cancel class March 16, Katherine Knott, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, March 12, 2020, retrieved March 12, 2020.
  11. Web. Charlottesville City Council appoints interim city manager, CBS 19 News, November 5th, 7:40 PM EDT; Updated: November 4th, 1:45 PM EDT
  12. Web. City Council approves pay raise, taking its salaries to maximum, Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, May 2, 2017, retrieved October 25, 2019.
  13. Web. Charlottesville City Council passes FY 2022 budget, Steve Rappaport, News Article, April 13, 2021, retrieved April 14, 2021.
  14. Web. Charlottesville City Council signs off on reduced fiscal year 2021 budget, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, June 1, 2020, retrieved December 11, 2020.
  16., Council decides on process for hiring city attorney, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Sean Tubbs, April 14, 2018, May 22, 2019

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