UVA Law student is first to announce in 2023 Albemarle Supervisor elections
A small group gathered on the steps of the Albemarle County Office Building Saturday afternoon to support the first candidate to make a formal announcement to run for the Board of Supervisors.
“My name is Mike Pruitt, and I’m a Democrat running for the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to represent the Scottsville District,” said Mike Pruitt.
Pruitt grew up in a small town in Anderson County, South Carolina he said was about an hour away from a city where people could find work. A former mill had closed, leaving no major industry.
“As I got older, I realized that this wasn’t a place I could stay,” Pruitt said. “Decades of disinvestment meant that there were no opportunities and growing up in the 90’s as a kid like me, I didn’t always feel the most welcome.”
This story was updated with a correction! See comments below for details.
Pruitt got a military scholarship and spent over ten years in the Navy including two combat tours of duty before taking a position as an analyst with the Office of Naval Intelligence. He’s now a student at the University of Virginia School of Law.
“When I was preparing to end my military service, I think the thing I was really excited about was the opportunity to finally have a home so I took that decision seriously,” Pruitt said. “I never felt welcome where I grew up and all of the eight different places I lived while I was in the Navy, they never felt like they were there to last. Living in Albemarle has been my first chance at a real home.”
Pruitt said Albemarle is a prosperous place in a beautiful part of the world, but not everyone is sharing the same experience.
“The folks who actually work in our schools and our transit system and our police force often have to commute from Fluvanna, from Greene, from Nelson, from Waynesboro because they can’t afford to live here.” Pruitt said. “I had a good job and I saved for years and even I need two roommates to be barely able to make the payments on a townhouse here.”
Pruitt said development alone cannot help bring down the cost of housing, and that governments need to continue to devote funding in this area.
“We need to actually deeply invest in affordability,” Pruitt said. “We need to invest in our non-profit partners and we need to fight for stronger inclusionary zoning and proffers. We need to then say, once we’ve done all that, we need to knock on the doors of Richmond and we need to say, that’s not enough, we still need better, stronger tools. We need tenant protection, mortgage assistance.”
Pruitt also said workforce development needs to do more to provide people with good-paying jobs that have a future. He also spent time at the Urban Institute where he helped create apprenticeship programs across the country.
“As tech continues to grow in the hub of Charlottesville, we need to make sure that they’re hiring database engineers, they’re hiring graphic designers, and security specialists from vocational and technical training programs right here in the county rather than trying to hire out of the Beltway in northern Virginia.”
Osborne began the announcement program
Pruitt was introduced by Ellen Osborne, the Scottsville representative on the School Board.
“Today I’m here to support Michael Pruitt in his run for Albemarle County Board Supervisors,” Pruitt said. “It helps when the School Board and the Board of Supervisors have a good working relationship.”
Osborne also took the opportunity to announce her reelection campaign.
“My motivation stays the same as it was in 2019,” Osborne said. “My children had an excellent experience in Albemarle County schools and I believe that should be the case for every child.”
Osborne said the first two and a half months of her term were in person before the CoVID-19 pandemic.
“And navigating the pandemic took a lot of our time and energy,” Osborne said. “Our plans got a little derailed so there’s still a lot to do.”
Osborne said there are two big things she wants the Board to do. One of them is to alleviate overcrowding in a school system that has nearly 14,000 students according to this year’s profile on the Department of Education website.
“I hope that by the end of my next term we’ll have a new elementary school in the southern feeder pattern and we’re still actively considering solutions for the high schools,” Osborne said.
Osborne said the school system has recently hired a consultant to take a look at why achievement gaps continue to persist.
Pruitt also thanked Osborne.
“From the very first moment I met Ellen I think the thing that really struck me was that it’s very immediately clear the amount of compassion that drives her in this work and that that’s what motivates her to do this work and I’m so proud and honored to be able to run along side of [her,]”
There are also School Board elections in the Rivanna District, the White Hall District, and the at-large seat. Both the School Board and the Planning Commission have a seat that covers the entire county, unlike the Board of Supervisors.
Before you go: This story was published here first on Information Charlottesville, something that may happen more in the future as I want to get information out sooner than my usual production schedule on Charlottesville Community Engagement. The next one isn’t coming out until Monday, and this story will be the lead story. Yet, covering local elections is a core priority of my work and so here we are.
The above audio will also be posted to the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. That is separate from the audio that will be in the November 28, 2022 podcast. Many may not yet know that almost all installments of the newsletter are also podcasts, apart from the Week Ahead and the property transactions. The Fifth District Community Engagement newsletter also is not a podcast. It’s perhaps worth reviewing anyway.
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