Blair Hawkins | Charlottesville, Virginia |

Roaming Townhall Latest Patch For At-Large. Sunday May 21, 2017.

The first townhall was Thursday Aug. 12, 2010 at Tonsler Park, a year after its sponsor Councilor Kristin Szakos called for removal of confederate monuments as a way to end division and bring the minorities back to the ever-shrinking majority.

So the townhall is at least the 9th effort since 2002 to address the unresponsiveness of local government.

Normally citizens complain to their councilor, representing their section of town, who brings the issue to the meetings. The current Council constantly calls for the public to attend every meeting. The City has 5 reps but there are no reps for citizens and neighborhoods within the City.

Remember after the '05 school board referendum, 100 people attended the first hearing and 5 attended the next meeting. Councilor Kendra Hamilton asked why only 5 people care about this issue. That's because the 5 mayors represent the City, not the citizens.


  • 1888 Town becomes City with mixed ward/at-large sytem modeled after the federal system (bicameral). Common Council, Board of Aldermen, and real elected Mayor.
  • 1912 Nov. 6. Referendum approves "permission" for Commission government. This and President Woodrow Wilson pass more than 3 to 1 in all 4 wards. The other two referendums, to allow Treasurer and Commissioner of the Revenue to be re-elected, serve consecutive terms, barely passed in 3 wards and lost in Ward 4. (Source– VOTE IN CITY)
  • 1920 Dec. 7. Referendum mandates the switch to majority-only elections modeled after corporate governing boards (unicameral). (Source– BIG VICTORY IS REGISTERED)
  • 1924 Segregationist At-Large Installed. 5 Mayors Called Councilors representing whole City.
  • — May 21. "Lee Statue Is Unveiled." (Source)
  • 1963. 4 Wards Become 8 Precincts in largest, most controversial annexation in City-County history. Annexation of white suburbs creates the white majority and shuts out all minorities unless chosen to represent the majority.
  • 1981 Nov. 3. (For 2,642 Against 2,418 out of 10,330) NAACP tries to restore actual Councilors to represent precincts & neighborhoods.
  • 1982 May 4. (For 2,453 Against 3,382) Reform fails during City Council election. (Source: Rob Schilling 2004.)
  • 2002 Elected School Board Petition led by Kevin Cox. (Source) The opening quote– Lived here since 1974... Never heard of Wards. The article reports the current mixed ward/at-large system was adopted 1981. Didn't know about 1982 repeat referendum that preserved the At-Large. Invokes principle of one man-one vote, which At-Large violates. One man-five votes.
  • 2004 Mar. 23. "Public talks about ward system but not sure it's the fix" at 1946 Tonsler Park. (Timeline from '08.)
  • — Apr. 5 after midnight in 3-1-1 vote. Commission on Council Representation headed by Sean O'Brien. (Includes Jan. 3, 2005 final report.)
  • 2005 Nov. Elected School Board led by Rob Schilling.
  • 2006 Aug. Second Commission on Representation recommends At-Large, same 51% selects all 7 school board members, no minority representation. One option was for each school district to have a representative.
  • 2007 Dec. $100,000 Customer Care position is scrapped. (Source)
  • 2009 Councilor (one of the 5 mayors) Kristin Szakos wonders if we should tear down our monuments based on the 1924 racists who also installed the At-Large Commission government for the same reasons.
  • 2010 May. Neighborhood Advocate position is put on hold. (Source)
  • — Aug. 12. First Townhall Meeting. "We do not trust you." – Jell-O. (Source)
  • 2011. 8 Precincts become 9 due to 2010 Census. All the commissions and requests to update the precincts were ignored. (Source)
  • 2016 How are the townhalls working? In Feb. Council adopts new rules to limit feedback from the public. In Dec. Joanne Robertson presents a 1,000-signature petition for Council to relax the speech restrictions. (Source)
  • 2017 June 5. Council set to rename Lee and Jackson Parks. Online contest shows Lee and Jackson are the top two names submitted by the public. 17th anniversary of the fiasco to name a street after Sally Hemings.
How do we replace the at-large 5 mayors with actual city councilors? A simple referendum like the one in 1920 that imposed the majority-only system so many people have been trying to fix. A ballot-initiative just like the one that forced the change to elected school board.

The 1981–82 referendums showed that November is better than May. Now all elections are in November. Still most people skip the local elections. You need distance from local office with an abstract issue such as the elected school board.

You hear on WCHV radio that you only need 6,000 voters to out-vote the entrenched Democrats. A few years ago it was the 5,200 Club. In '04 and '05 it was 4,500. Hardcore partisans were 1,500. And 3,000 moderates split off to support the elected school board. So if you have an issue instead of a city council office, you can get 2/3 to split off.

Every election you hear that Democrats received 2/3 of the vote. But that's only about 20% of all the voters. It's the other 80% who have the top votes "Lee" and "Jackson" in the naming contest. It explains many examples where Council is out of step with the community. Local elections become volatile because you only need a 20% fringe group to seize power from the fringe group in power.

The highest turnout ever was 70% in '08 with President Obama. For typical City Council elections 20% (of total registered voters) go Democrat and 10% for Republican. This year you have several Democrats running as Democrats and as Independents and no Republicans. So you really need only attract 6% of the 20% to give you 16% to their 14%.

Then you're left with the same problem– Tyranny of a minority that receives a majority of votes on election day, because the true majority didn't care enough to vote.

"Hemings Street" Leads To Confederate Monuments Removal. May 13, 2017. Monday June 5 Council is expected to rename 1917 Lee and 1919 Jackson Parks on 17th anniversary of fiasco to name a street after Sally Hemings.

6-Month Reprieve For Lee Statue Removal. May 3, 2017.

Newspaper Articles.

Blair Hawkins | Charlottesville, Virginia | | Résumé | Top