Just as a violent insurrection against the U.S. Capitol was fanned by the sitting U.S. president on Wednesday afternoon, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors met for its first meeting of the year and appointed Ned Gallaway to a third year as Chair. Unlike Charlottesville, the Board appoints its presiding officer every year.
Each Supervisor gave thoughts about what they hope 2021 will be like. Supervisor Diantha McKeel represents the Jack Jouett District and her second term is up at the beginning of the year. She made these comments before the moment of silence.
“We now have 8 million people who have moved into poverty,” McKeel said. “We have 90 million people who have no health insurance. One in six adults are going hungry. One in four children are going hungry and in the United States right now we’re losing someone to COVID every 30 seconds.
Supervisor Ann Mallek represents the White Hall District and she gave these remarks which supports Albemarle government action to respond to the pandemic.
“While we have many more obstacles in our future from COVID-19 I am confident that we will avoid chaos, provide services and earn the confidence of our citizens,” Mallek said. “I know there is a long to-do list already and our work plan is overflowing but there are high-priority program issues I hope we will all think about and give attention to in 2021.”
These include completion of the county’s Housing Albemarle plan, finding ways to pay for infrastructure to support urban growth, and connecting the Climate Action Plan with action steps including the county’s own procurement policy.
“If we take a cradle to cradle approach and get thorough documentation, not information from sales people, we will make much better decisions,” Mallek said.
Supervisor Donna Price of the Scottsville District is in the second year of her first term. She said the pandemic will continue to lead to hardships for Albemarle residents. Price listed three priorities.
“The first one is expanding broadband and that includes revising our cell tower policies in order to ensure that we can expand availability and access,” Price said. “On top of everything we have to look at equity and I’ve said before, equity must be prospective not retrospective. And every decision the county makes must be made with a view towards equity.”
Price’s third priority is to find a way to find locations in the county where “convenience centers” can be built to allow residents to drop off solid waste for disposal or recycling.
“As I travel to neighboring counties I see that virtually all of them have no fee convenience centers,” Price said. “We have no convenience centers in Albemarle County.”
Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley is in her second year of her first term representing the Rivanna District. She said education is a priority as the pandemic continues.
“We need to do something with our schools,” LaPisto-Kirtley said. “I’m hoping that the school district will figure out a way to make up for lost time for our children. That’s the basis of our democracy. We need to have an outstanding educational system for everybody.”
Supervisor Liz Palmer is in the final year of her second term in the Samuel Miller District. The pandemic is a focus.
“And I hope that we can continue to do the great job that we have been doing in masking and social distancing in spite of the spike that is going on now,” Palmer said.
Gallaway is in the final year of his first term representing the Rio District. He thanked the Board clerk and her staff for their work in helping government meetings continue during the pandemic.
“I know that work is going to continue and we don’t really know when that’s going to end but I know that the Board members are confident that we will continue to be able to provide services,” Gallaway said.