I enjoyed reading Lisa Provence's article entitled "Fall Fling: Charlottesville City Council Race" in the October 18, 2007 issue of the HooK. I am happy to report, however, that there is no negative campaigning that I see in this race. Provence wrote "Most of the candidates make nice about their opponents, but Kleeman takes aim at Brown's support for the proposed Meadowcreek Parkway, the long-planned road that would link downtown to Rio Road." But, pointing out the differences between views by candidates on controversial projects like the parkway is hardly what I would call 'taking aim'.
I have been before council on many over the past several years asking council to connect these projects into one project, and to do a comprehensive look into whether the combined project is consistent with our community's transportation and environmental vision for the future. I believe it is essential to combine the Albemarle County portion of the parkway project, McIntire Road Extended, and the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road project into one project for analysis because none of the independent pieces can meet its purpose and need without the others. They are intimately linked, but are apparently being kept separate to avoid performing environmental review of impacts of the McIntire Road Extended project on McIntire Park and surrounding natural, cultural, and historic resources. It is my opinion that this artificial separation is not in compliance with prevailing federal law. Also, the most recent council action that conditionally approved granting a construction easement to VDOT in McIntire Park confirms that these projects are not separable and must be connected.
At the October 3 council candidate forum, candidates were asked where we would look first to cut funding in the city budget. I answered that I would cut spending for the McIntire Road Extended and the interchange projects and redirect a portion of those funds toward transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects in the city. Mayor Brown answered that he would cut funding from the affordable housing expenditures from the city budget. Given that this is part of the public record, I hardly think that stating these differences in response to Provence's request to identify how I differ from other candidates is anything like an accusation as presented in the Provence article. Perhaps this constitutes the 'sizzle' that I was asked to put in my Squeaky Wheel articles I wrote for the HooK prior to my becoming a council candidate. I did telephone Mayor Brown to tell him that my intention was not to attack him in any way and that the article had some extra sizzle inserted. After that was said and done, we continued to chat about some of the other fun and surprises we were both encountering on the campaign trail. I have gotten to know and enjoy interacting with all of the city council candidates and appreciate that we all seem to believe that the campaign is totally about the issues important to the residents of Charlottesville. Win or lose, I believe all five candidates will be working together in our own ways to make Charlottesville a better place in the years ahead. We are all in this effort together.
I did have to chuckle at the comment "Despite the chances of upending the Democratic machine seeming slimmer than Nicole Richie, two independents have stepped into the fray ...". I do not follow Nicole Richie's body fat index but you can decide for yourself online, but I believe that independent candidates have a very good chance of getting elected to City Council in Charlottesville. In fact I have people stopping me on the street every day thanking me for running as an independent candidate, and telling me that they will be voting for me on November 6. Maybe I will have to check if Nicole Richie has put on a few pounds lately to see if Nicole's body mass is a viable indicator of electability of independent candidates. It is a great line, and I am guessing Lisa Provence has been looking for a good place to use it. But, I don't encourage you to believe it. I encourage you to vote for me on Nov. 6 and be part of history - the election of the first independent candidate ever elected to Charlottesville city council.