Under the gaze of Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville Republicans met in the Albemarle County Circuit Courtroom last night to elect officers for the coming year and to nominate a candidate to oppose Democrats Blake Caravati and Alexandria Searls in the race for two seats on the Charlottesville City Council.
This gathering of 15 dedicated Charlottesville Republican voters, along with a few Albemarle County notables and distinguished guests, was civil, friendly, calm and deliberate - a far cry from a dispute over party leadership and subsequent exchange two years ago which ended up in a suit in Charlottesville District Court.
At the February 28, 2002 meeting, Bob Hodous was elected Chair of the Charlottesville Republican Committee, 30 members of the committee were reappointed, and 40-year old Rob Schilling was chosen to represent Republicans in the upcoming city council election, all my unanimous vote.
John Pfaltz, who nominated Rob Schilling, noted that Schilling is a Realtor and technology consultant, a professional musician [and past member of The Sneaks], a writer, a youth minister, and a participant in the Sorensen Insitute, who has also worked as a teacher.
Pfaltz promised that Schilling would work to:
End social promotion in the schools, promote arts in the schools, and support an elected school board;
Profer a graffiti abatement program;
Look where spending could be cut in the city budget; and
Support a program for City Emergency Response to Terrorists.
Speaking on behalf of the Charlottesville Republican Committee on November 5th, Rob Schilling endorsed a pay increase for city councilors, suggesting that the council "make up for the extra expenditure by moving council elections from June to November."
And on January 22, 2002, Schilling asked the council to stay away from tax increases, arguing that the slow economy is already hurting residents and businesses without the added burden of higher taxes. 'The money is not just coming out of thin air,' resident Rob Schilling said. 'The money is coming out of our pockets, and it's less money that's going into the merchants.'
"In an interview outside the meeting [yesterday], Schilling bemoaned the Democrats' political dominance in the city, where no Republican has won a council race in more than a decade.
'It seems that everyone is thinking the same way, and there's not a lot of discussion,' he said, noting that at a recent budget forum, the council focused on higher proposed fees for city services rather than possible spending cuts. 'There seems to be just a lack of ideas and fresh thought. ' .....With just over two months to campaign, Schilling likes his chances. 'The way I look at it,' he said, 'you've got two seats and three people, so the odds aren't that bad' " (Jake Mooney, March 1, 2002).
As chance would have it, the City of Charlottesville's budget was also a subject at the February 16th Democratic Candidates' Forum - where the lack of accessible information in the budget was described as appalling and the budget itself was described as impenetrable.
It will be interesting to see where Rob Schilling finds the revenues to support his proposed political agenda and just what cuts in the budget he will recommend.
It will be interesting to see what focus Rob Schilling establishes for his graffiti abatement program.
It will be interesting to learn what kind of emergency response system he proposes with regard to terrorists.
It will also be interesting to see whether the notion of elected school boards becomes an issue in this campaign.
Republicans Rob Schilling, Kevin Cox and Bob Hodous recently stood outside at the Democratic Nominating Convention for the Charlottesville City Council, encouraging participants to sign a petition to place a referendum on the November ballot for elected school boards in Charlottesville.
It is also possible that Schilling will still find a running mate. Bob Hodous has left the door open for Republicans to reconvene at his office at 5 p.m. on Monday, if another candidate surfaces by that time.
Addendum: "A last minute meeting Monday afternoon at the office of party Chairman Bob Hodous yielded no new candidates.
Still, Hodous said he was happy with just one candidate. 'I think there
are enough people who are concerned about the direction of the city, including
independents and Democrats, that even though [Rob Schilling is] running
by himself he'll have a good chance' " (Jake Mooney, The Daily Progress,
March 6, 2002).