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Meet the Press: Media and Journalism in Charlottesville and the Commonwealth

Saturday, January 17th from 9:30 to 11:30AM
Cville Coffee (1301 Harris Street)

PROGRAM:  In this month’s City-County Democratic Breakfast Meeting, we will discuss the state and future of media and journalism in Charlottesville and in the Commonwealth. Guest panelists will share their thoughts about the state of the industry, the future of media and journalism, and the conduct and coverage of recent high profile stories. This will be an off the record discussion and will include questions from the audience.

WHO: Guest speakers include: Lisa Provence, Senior Reporter from C-ville Weekly; Chris Callahan, Senior Reporter, WINA News Radio; and Brian Wheeler, Executive Director, Charlottesville Tomorrow

Questions? Comments? Ideas for future meetings? Contact Emily Blout, ACDP City-County Breakfast Coordinator at

The May 12 Albemarle Democratic Committee caucus has been cancelled. 31 people prefiled before the deadline to become delegates, and that is less than the number of delegate spaces Albemarle was allocated by the Fifth District Democratic Committee. The 31 people who prefiled are deemed elected.

Albemarle still has six slots available for delegates to the convention in Fluvanna on May 31st. The current delegation will be able to fill those slots at the convention. If you are still interested in serving as a delegeate, or have questions, please contact Richard Brewer at


Samuel Miller District Supervisor Liz Palmer sends her first newsletter about her work on the Board of Supervisors.

This is the first in a series of occasional newsletters that I plan to send to keep folks up to date on recent and upcoming actions of the Board of Supervisors.  I hope to keep them brief and relevant, and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read them. If you know someone whom you think may wish to receive these emails please forward this. On the other hand, if you’d rather not receive them you may unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link below.

First, here are some ways to keep in touch with me and the rest of the Board of Supervisors:

  • Please note my new email address:
  • To send a message to all the Board of Supervisor members
  • To get regular notices of meetings, sign up for A-Mail, the electronic newsletter from the County

As you may recall, I ran on these central issues: school excellence, natural resource protection and infrastructure maintenance, and transparency and citizen involvement in government.   Much has happened in my first ten weeks on the board and I hope to report on transportation, the Comprehensive Plan, solid waste management, and rural internet service in subsequent newsletters.

Transparency and Citizen Involvement:  I pledged to dedicate myself to maintaining the public trust by involving citizens in all important decisions.

Public Hearings and Town Hall Meetings: As the news media has reported, the Board has held several well-attended public hearings, and I’d like to thank all of you who took time to voice your opinions or to write to us and/or the media. Please mark your calendars for one more important upcoming public hearing at Lane Auditorium in the County Office Building:

  • Tuesday evening April 8th at 6 pm on the proposed Tax Rate.

I will be holding three upcoming Town Hall Meetings for Samuel Miller Residents:

  • Saturday morning March 22nd 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Yancey Elementary School.
  • Monday evening March 24th 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Red Hill Elementary School.
  • Tuesday evening March 25th 7:00 to 8:30 pm. at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School.

Eric Strucko, our District’s elected School Board representative, will attend each of these meetings to discuss the School budget, which as you may know is about 60% of our overall county budget. Representatives from the Police and Fire and Rescue Departments will be available to address questions about their services.

Please plan to attend!

On the Road: I have been visiting with PTOs and a variety of interest groups and organizations.  Each meeting has been valuable to me.  Please let me know if you’d like me to attend your group’s meeting.

Internet Streaming of Board Meetings: I have been working to implement live video streaming of Board meetings just as many other localities do, but I’ll need public support to make that happen.  Audio streaming is available during meetings, and podcasts are available a few days after each meeting.  I’m arguing that we need video streaming to more fully engage the public, so feel free to speak up on that issue at a board meeting or in an email to the Board.

The Budget, the Tax Rate, and Schools:  Our most immediate concern is setting the tax rate at a level that will ensure our ability to responsibly fund our schools, public safety, and other county services. In early February the County Executive released the proposed 2015 county budget to the Board of Supervisors at the same time it was released to the public. The County Executive’s proposed budget reflected choices of the previous Board. The proposed budget included a 1.7 cent tax hike, which would bring the rate from the current 76.6 cents up to 78.3.  Most of that increase — 1.3 of the 1.7 cents – was required just to cover unfunded mandates handed down from the state: increased local contributions to the Virginia Retirement System, and funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by controlling storm water runoff into our rivers and streams. The remaining 0.4 cents was to shore up our general government and capital improvements fund.  The proposed budget would have only funded 60% of this year’s capital improvement projects and would have left the schools with $5.8 million less than their budget request.

The Board then held a series of work sessions and a well-attended public hearing (where speakers were supportive, by about a 5:1 margin, of increasing taxes to fund our schools). It was also noted that our tax rate is relatively low compared to similar localities in Virginia. After some back-and-forth, we voted to advertise a tax rate that marked the highest rate the Board was willing to bring to the public for discussion.  This was a 4.2 cent increase to 80.8 cents, which is 2.5 cents higher than the county executive’s proposal. The majority of this increase would go to the schools. If adopted, this new rate would help ease our schools’ budget gap but would still leave them with $2.4 million less than their budget request.

The Supervisors do not have line item veto over the school budget. We appropriate the total amount the schools will operate on for the coming year, but the school board decides how to spend the money. The School Board has not given the Board of Supervisors a prioritized list of what they would cut, but they have given us a list of possibilities. At the top of this list is the potential for teacher layoffs with subsequent increase in class size. Because of the recession, the last few years have already seen significant cuts in staff positions and important support services. Possible cuts on the table also include a proposed 2% salary raise for county and school employees.

What does this mean to you? For a person with a $300,000 home, the tax bill would go up $126 per year at the advertised rate. This does not include increases or decreases in this year’s property assessments. The average Samuel Miller home assessment is up 1.58%, but the range is wide.

On April 15th the board of Supervisors will need to decide on a tax rate.  It’s a tough call. No one likes paying taxes, but we know there’s no free lunch.  We have a growing county with growing demand for services.  I’ve heard from a number of citizens in our community who find it difficult to make ends meet given current expenses and income, and for whom a tax hike would be burdensome.  Others ask to have their taxes increased. They can afford the increase and feel that good schools and other services raise property values and benefit everyone.

For more information, please see the adopted budget and the school funding request.

If you’ve contacted me already – thanks again.  If you haven’t, please consider coming to a town hall meeting and to the public hearing on April 8.  And thank you again for giving me this opportunity to serve our county.


Read other updates from Albemarle’s Democratic elected officials.

Photo Credit: WINA

From NBC 29:

 ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va (WVIR) – An Albemarle County prosecutor wants to be the next circuit court clerk. John Zug declared his candidacy to a crowd of supporters Friday afternoon in Charlottesville’s historic Court Square.

The Democrat pointed out problems he sees inside the current clerk’s office. Zug says they include underserving the court’s needs and mismanaging the office.

“What’s happened is we’ve had a number of situations where either insufficient jurors have been subpoenaed to come to court and in that particular case, we ended up having a mistrial because she had not subpoenaed enough jurors and we quickly lost two or three jurors,” said Zug.

NBC29 has reached out to the current Albemarle Clerk of Court Debbie Shipp for her response, but have not yet heard back.

The election will be held next year.

NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather


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Diantha McKeel, Brad Sheffield and Liz Palmer sworn in Thursday. Photo credit: Newsplex

Come January 1st, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will have both a Democratic majority and and a female majority.

Jane Dittmar took office immediately after the November elections and Liz Palmer, Brad Sheffield and Diantha McKeel were sworn in this week. From the Newsplex:

The newest members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors have now been sworn in.

Liz Palmer, Brad Sheffield, and Diantha McKeel all took their oaths of office on Thursday afternoon.

They join Jane Dittmar on the board, which the democrats now control for the first time since 2011.

School Board members were also sworn in on Thursday, including new school board member Kate Acuff.

Congrats to our new elected officials!




Pursuant to the authority provided by the Virginia Democratic Party Plan, the Albemarle County Democratic Committee hereby calls a Caucus to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 5, 2013, with doors to open at 5:30 pm in the auditorium of the Albemarle County Office Building, McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.

  1. Incorporated Documents. All appropriate provisions of the Virginia Democratic Party Plan (“State Party Plan”), as amended, and the Bylaws of the Albemarle County Democratic Committee are incorporated into this Call by reference and made a part hereof.
  2. Purposes. The purpose of the Caucus shall be to nominate Democratic candidates for the upcoming Albemarle County General Special Election for the Scottsville District Supervisor seat to be held on November 5, 2013.
  3. Participation. Participation in the caucus is open to all registered voters of the Scottsville District of Albemarle County who wish to participate as Democrats regardless of race, sex, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, economic status, or disability.  Voter participation in any nomination contest is open to registered voters of the district for which a candidate is running for nomination.
  4. Filing. Any Democrat wishing to be considered for Democratic nomination to a County office must file a certificate of candidacy with the Chair of the Albemarle County Democratic Committee, or designated representative, by the filing deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31, 2013.
  5. Only those candidates who have filed by the deadline will appear on the ballots distributed at the caucuses. If no more than 1 person has filed for any office by the deadline, the person who has filed for that office will be deemed to have been nominated.
  6. Declaration. All candidates and all persons participating in the caucuses, shall sign a Declaration form which includes an affirmation that the person is a resident of, and registered to vote in, the jurisdiction holding the caucus; does not intend to support any candidate who is opposed to the Democratic nominee in the next ensuing general election; is a Democrat; is not a member of any other political party; and has not participated and will not participate in the nominating process of any other political party for the 2013 general elections.
  7. Filing fee. The Albemarle County Democratic Committee has requested a fee for each candidate in the amount of $250.
  8. Rules. The County Caucus shall be governed by the rules developed by the Temporary Rules Committee and rules developed by the permanent Rules Committee. The Chair shall appoint the members of the Temporary Committees on Credentials and Rules, and shall appoint a convener of each committee, which shall each have three members.
  9. Certification of Candidates. Within four days after the caucus, the Albemarle County Democratic Chair shall provide the State Party and the State Board of Elections the name of each nominated candidate.

Richard Brewer

Chair, Albemarle County Democratic Party

On Tuesday, we go to the polls to decide our nominees for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.  You can vote at your normal polling place between 6 am and 7 PM.  We have two great candidates for each position.

Chopra, Northam, Herring, Fairfax

Lieutenant Governor:

Attorney General:

A few weeks ago we asked who people were endorsing in this primary. Here is what was sent to us. Please add your favorites in the comments section.


Chopra and Fairfax
-Pat M.

Northam and Herring
-Joyce K.

Northan and Herring
-Susan H.

Northan and Herring
-Richard B.

Add your endorsement to the comments section below.

Find out about the rest of our 2013 Candidates.


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At our nominating caucus last week, we nominated Liz Palmer and Brad Sheffield to be our nominees for the Board of Supervisors. Check out the Newsplex coverage below and check out the candidates web sites to learn more about them and how to help their campaigns.

Brad Sheffield
Rio District Nominee for the Board of Supervisors

Liz Palmer
Samuel Miller District Nominee for the Board of Supervisors

Brad SheffieldCheck out yesterday’s coverage from Brad Sheffield’s announcement for the Board of Supervisors.

From the Daily Progress:

“It’s all about moving forward in small, incremental steps,” Sheffield said outside the Albemarle County Office Building on Tuesday. “And those small steps add up to that bigger vision that we’ve created that ultimately moves us forward.”

The Newsplex:

“I’ve decided to run because I really do believe that when we make decisions for Albemarle County, we need to be making decisions that leave a legacy for our future generations,” Sheffield said. “We need to make sure we’re putting together those plans and making common-sense decisions that prepare us for the opportunities.”

The Hook:

“The self-described “planning nerd” offered his experience as what best qualifies him for the Board of Supervisors. Sheffield is an assistant director at JAUNT and has undergrad and master’s degrees in planning from UVA.”

NBC 29:

“Sheffield says his platform will also focus on workforce development and public education. He is running against Republican incumbent Rodney Thomas.”

Charlottesville Tomorrow:

“I’ve spent the last 14 years developing the skills that allow me to understand what the county is going to face and how to make certain decisions,” Sheffield said.

Find out more about Brad Sheffield.

Brad Sheffield will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Board of Supervisors from the Rio District on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, at 12 PM at the McIntire County Office Building.

Find out more about Brad at his web site.