City Council

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The Charlottesville City Council is a five-member elected body that serves as City's legislative and governing body. Each member is elected at-large, and serves a 4-year term. The next election is scheduled for November 1, 2011. On November 3, 2009, Dave Norris won re-election and Kristin Szakos was elected to her first term.

Council chooses one of its own to serve as Mayor, and another to serve as Vice Mayor. Both are two-year terms.

If a vacancy opens up, Council elects a new member to serve out the remainder of the term.


The Mayor presides over meetings, calls special meetings, makes some appointments to advisory boards and serves as the ceremonial head of government. The Vice Mayor substitutes whenever the Mayor is unavailable. The current mayor is Dave Norris. There is also a list of former mayors.

While the Mayor has no more power than any other Councilor, the position carries with it the ability to set the agenda. That means the Mayor can control how the meeting flows.


Council holds public meetings on the first and third Monday of each month. If one of those dates falls on a holiday, Council will meet on the Tuesday following the holiday. Meetings are held in City Council Chambers in City Hall and are televised on Cable Channel 10, as well as streamed online.

Council occasionally holds additional work sessions in the City Hall basement conference room.

Council guides policy decisions concerning city planning and finances, human development, public safety and justice, public utilities, and transportation.

Council has the power to pass ordinances, levy taxes, collect revenues, adopt a budget, make appropriations, issue bonds, borrow money, and provide for the payment of public debts.

City Council appoints four top City staff positions: City Manager, the Director of Finance, the City Assessor, and the Clerk of the Council.


Regular meetings of City Council generally begin at 7:00 PM in City Council Chambers. They begin with the pledge of allegiance, followed by any awards, recognitions or announcements that need to be made. Then, Council will invite the public up to speak during for up to three minutes on any item that is not on the agenda. Depending on who is Mayor, this period will either last until everyone has had their chance, or until 7:35 PM. Afterwards, Councilor may choose to respond to the comments.

Next, the Council will consider the consent agenda, which is a list of resolutions and ordinances that Council has agreed in advance to approve. Beginning in 2003, Council moved this section to the front of the agenda[1] rather than at the conclusion of the meeting. Any item pulled from the agenda, however, will be deferred until after all regular items have been heard.

After the consent agenda is passed, Council will hear any number of resolutions, ordinances or reports. Public hearings are required for certain items to move forward.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the public is offered one more chance to make a public comment. Then, Councilors are asked if they have any other business they'd like to bring up. After that business has been discussed, the Mayor will call for Council to adjourn.

Different mayors have had different policies regarding taking public input. Some mayors have strictly held to the stated policy that says the public comment period stops at 7:35PM. However, Mayor Dave Norris generally allows comments until all have had a chance to speak.

Current Membership

Former Members

Main article: List of City Councilors

Election 2009

Candidates Votes %
Dave Norris (D) incumbent 6,300 38.7
Kristin Szakos (D) 5,083 31.2
Bob Fenwick (I) 3,293 20.2
Paul Long (I) 1,214 7.5
Andrew Williams (I, write-in) 237 1.5
Other Write-In 141 0.9
Source: City of Charlottesville[2]

Overall voter turnout for City of Charlottesville in this election was 37.31%. Each voter could vote for up to two candidates.

In the 2009 election, Dave Norris and Kristin Szakos were elected to four-year terms on Council. They had been challenged by independents Paul Long and Bob Fenwick as well as write-in candidate Andrew Williams.

Democratic Primary

Incumbent Julian Taliaferro (D) was defeated in the Charlottesville Democrats' "unassembled caucus" held on May 9, 2009. Taliaferro was first elected in 2006 with Norris.

Election calendar shift

Charlottesville switched from May to November City Council elections in 2007. Councilors elected in May 2004 have shortened terms that end December 2007 (instead of June 2008). Councilors elected in May 2006 have shortened terms that end in December 2009 (instead of June 2010).

The first two Councilors to be elected in November are Holly Edwards and Satyendra Huja.

External links

City Council Agendas (2009)


  1. Charlottesville City Council Minutes. 5 May 2003. City of Charlottesville, Virginia. 30 Mar. 2009 <>.
  2. Official Results November 3, 2009 General Election. City of Charlottesville, 6 Nov. 2009. Web. 6 Nov. 2009. <>.