By. Neil Williamson, President
Last week, on the same day the University of Virginia’s Men’s basketball team won their first National Championship, the City of Charlottesville announced Dr. Tarron Richardson as the next City Manager. The city’s announcement was overshadowed by Coach Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers but it, combined with other concurrent events, has the potential to be equally paradigm shifting.
Just as a great coach learns the proper way to instruct and motivate his team, we have written extensively about the strong City Manager form of government and the concept of a “weak” mayor. We believe (and hope) the personality, perspective, persistence and professionalism of the new City Manager will become a part of the City identity.
After the last Charlottesville City Council election, the Free Enterprise Forum blog highlighted a potential Authentic Charlottesville Optimism? In hindsight, the raw, authentic dialog expressed at the January 2018 retreat predicted the fissures that hindered some council initiatives from moving ahead.
Fast forward a year and Richardson’s arrival, on May 13, coupled with 3 (of 5) new councilors, the long awaited completion of the Comprehensive Plan, promised Zoning Code revisions, and a rewritten standards and design manual, we believe in the next 24 months will provide the opportunity to reset the Charlottesville narrative.
We share the optimism presented in Richardson’s hiring announcement:
“As this process evolved it became more and more clear that Dr. Richardson was the right person to lead the City of Charlottesville at this important time for our community,” said Heather Hill, Vice Mayor. “His approach will have him in City employees’ offices and our neighborhoods, getting to know staff and residents directly, while fostering a culture of service to our community.”
Charlottesville is at an important juncture in its history. How it chooses to address the very real issues of housing affordability, gentrification, economic development and community engagement will help define its future. We are encouraged by the high level City Council candidate discussions of these issues and we look forward to working with the new City Manager to the betterment of our entire community.
We repeat our close from our January 18, 2018 post:
Only time will tell if this optimism is well founded. Stay tuned.
Neil Williamson, President
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County.
Photo Credit: City of Charlottesville