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New independent candidate joins City Council race

Nancy Carpenter hopes to improve student relations, affordable housing

<p>Carpenter is the Rose Hill Neighborhood Association President.</p>

Carpenter is the Rose Hill Neighborhood Association President.

This past Saturday Nancy Carpenter, Rose Hill Neighborhood Association President and an activist, announced her candidacy for a seat on the Charlottesville City Council.

Two of the five City Council seats, those held by Bob Fenwick and Kristin Szakos, will be up for election come November. Szakos is not seeking re-election, but Fenwick is hoping to hold on to his seat.

He will face off against two challengers in the Democratic primary on June 13 — Amy Laufer and Heather Hill.

Carpenter is the fourth independent candidate to enter the race, joining Dale Woodson, Nikuyah Walker and Paul Long. Any additional independents have until June 13 to register with the Virginia Board of Elections to be on the ballot in November.

Carpenter has experience working as an activist with groups in the Charlottesville community, including Virginia Organizing, the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice and The Haven, a homeless shelter on the Downtown Mall. She is the coordinated assessor for The Haven.

“I would say that working with [The] Haven certainly opened my eyes to what poverty looks like in the city and that we don’t always have the voices at the table — we don’t always invite the voices to the table, where they can make an impact,” Carpenter said in an interview with the Cavalier Daily. “Our actions can make an impact in people’s lives.”

One of Carpenter’s goals if elected to City Council would be to create more affordable housing for residents — including students — in Charlottesville through policies, incentives or credits.

“There are a lot of models out there in the country that are working, and I know that we are on track to do that, and I want our city to do that,” Carpenter said. “We have to look beyond developing like we did in the late 20th century and look at some new models of what a city should look like and how people can thrive and survive.”

Carpenter also has ties to the group Equity and Progress in Charlottesville. EPiC is a political organization working towards improving economic opportunity, social and racial equality and government accountability, according to Mieke Zylstra, one of EPiC’s steering committee members.

“Many community members feel under-represented in the realm of local politics, and particularly on these fronts,” Zylstra said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “The organization’s aim is to provide a conduit between community members and those in local political office, in this regard. Nancy has a natural affinity to EPiC and its goals, most obviously in regard to housing.”

EPiC will likely wait to formally endorse any candidates for City Council until after a series of forums set to begin in May.

“Going forward, EPiC will maintain an active voice in local politics and encourage civic involvement of all members,” Zylstra said. “And we certainly hope that local politicians keep an open dialog with us, as we are members of the community they serve.”

If elected, Carpenter also said she hopes to maintain an open dialogue with University students.

“My goal is to absolutely make sure that students — as individuals or groups — that speak for students in certain demographics, are asked to come to the table,” Carpenter said. “I think the people that are living in Charlottesville and attend school here feel that they’re left out or shut out and I don’t see enough being done to bring their voices forward. I want to bring that to the attention of city staff — we need to hear from college students.”

Maeve Curtin, a third-year College student and Student Council liaison to City Council, said Student Council will be keeping with its historical precedent and not be endorsing any candidates for City Council.

“We strongly encourage any and all students to learn about each candidate's platform and attend any campaign events to get to know the candidates better,” Curtin said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “We want students to be actively engaged in our local community and political engagement is part of that on local, state and national scales.” 

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