[For this year’s annual post-Charlottesville-trip series, I wanted to share tributes to various folks who were important influences during my Cville years. Leading up to this special weekend post on a peer of mine who’s aiming to become a Cville influence in 2019!]
On the 2019 political campaign of a Cville peer.
As a kid growing up in Charlottesville, I can’t say I ever gave any thought to the City Council or its members (not surprisingly I suppose, given that I was just a kid and one without any particular political ambitions). But in recent years, thanks largely to the ongoing controversies over the city’s Confederate statues, the City Council has become a focal and famous topic of conversation and debate. Particular Council members like Wes Bellamy and Kristen Szakos have become nationally known figures, linked not just to the statue debates but also to related and equally fraught issues like insiders/outsiders, Cville products vs. “carpetbaggers” (yes, I have seen that exact Reconstruction-era term applied to non-Cville-born Council members like Szakos), race and representation, personal scandals, and more. In 2019, it’s difficult to imagine that any person with ties to Charlottesville—those of us who no longer live there just as much as those who do—doesn’t have some perspective on the Cville City Counil.
Having a perspective is one thing, but running for Council is a whole ‘nother level, and that’s what my Charlottesville High School classmate (and current Facebook friend, in interests of full disclosure) Bellamy Brown is doing. A former Marine and current local businessman, Brown is running as an Independent, focusing so far on a couple of key messages: an emphasis on Cville’s African American community, representation, and related issues (which Brown argues both political parties have largely ignored or failed to address); and an attempt to move beyond partisan politics and focus on practical goals and efforts that will benefit not just particular communities like that one, but all the city’s residents. Hopefully I’m not misrepresenting Brown’s platform, about which he has a lot more to say in the above hyperlinked interview and which I’m sure will continue to develop and evolve ahead of the November 5th General Election.
I’m not writing this post either to endorse Brown’s candidacy or to oppose it; obviously this blog has in recent years come to include contemporary politics more fully than it did back in 2010, but that’s still a bridge significantly further than I’m willing to go in this space. Instead, I wanted to highlight Brown’s campaign as one more way that my Cville cohort have become hugely influential in a number of social and cultural arenas. Besides the authors highlighted in that Beach Reads series, my peer group/class alone features prominent musicians and musical artists and performers, an up-and-coming cider brewer, and a well-known advocate for sustainability and post-carbon human society, among many others. If I was influenced throughout my young life by all the figures I’ve highlighted in this week’s series (and many more besides), as an adult I find myself influenced and inspired instead by my peers, from my Cville cohort and from around the nation and world. Brown’s City Council bid is one more impressive way that we’ve become the 21st century influencers we are.
Next series starts Monday,
PS. Influential people you’d highlight?
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