Political Newcomers Set Sights on November

Tracy Clemons // Published May 10, 2009 in NBC 29
With the Charlottesville Democratic primary behind them, Mayor Dave Norris and political newcomer Kristin Szakos are moving forward as a united front, and the Democratic nominee for sheriff is right there with them.

Democrats packed into the firehouse-style primary at Burley Middle School Saturday. Around 1,600 valid votes were cast to nominate the party's city council candidates.

Mayor Norris moved on to November with 79 percent of the ballots cast in his favor. Szakos will join him in the general election. Nearly a 1,000 primary voters put her name on their ballot, ending Vice Mayor Julian Taliaferro's bid for re-election.

In an instant runoff for the city sheriff nomination, James Brown beat out Mike Baird with 56 percent of the vote. That's after ballots for third place candidate Philip Brown were reallocated between the top two.

Szakos credits her win to her work on Charlottesville's Obama campaign. "I think it's not so much that they look at me as such a wonderful person as it is that I was involved in the same thing they were involved in," she said.

Szakos says if elected she hopes to mow down some tough issues, like the achievement gap in city schools, affordable housing and public transportation.

“I think it's time for our city to get a more urban model of transportation so that the buses run on major trunk lines more often so you don't have to wait an hour for the bus,” she said.

Brown says as sheriff he would aim to do more than police the courts. “When you're elected into office and you're gonna be a community leader, I think you have to find ways to give back to the community more than just doing what they say you're supposed to be doing,” Brown said in an interview on Sunday.

Both candidates say they can bring something different to the office, from their career experiences to their personalities. The true citywide test for Szakos and Brown will come on Election Day.

Charlottesville’s Republican chairman, Buddy Weber, says there's no definite word yet on who, if anyone, will represent the GOP on November’s ballot.