Councilor Magill resigns seat effective January 11

At the tail end of a crowded Council meeting, Charlottesville City Councilor Sena Magill announced she will resign her seat effective January 11. Technically, Magill handed City Councilor Michael Payne a statement to read.

“This evening I have the regrettable news that I must step down from office,” Magill wrote. “The needs of my family have changed during my term in office and in the last few months it has become more and more apparent that I cannot meet the needs effectively of both.” 

Magill’s last day will be January 11. Council will next meet in a joint session with the Planning Commission the night before. 

Screenshot courtesy of WINA. Read their story

This resignation answers the question of whether Magill would seek a second term. She received the most votes in the 2019 election with 8,420 votes in a six way race. Fellow Democrats Lloyd Snook and Michael Payne received 8,133 and 7,816 respectively. However, she had placed third in the Democratic primary that year. 

It will be up to Council to fill the vacancy before elections are held later this year. 

“When a vacancy occurs in a local governing body or an elected School Board, the remaining members of the body or board respectively within 45 days of the office becoming vacant may appoint a qualified voter of the election district in which the vacancy occurred to fill the vacancy,” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook. 

If Council can’t agree on someone to appoint, it will be up to the Charlottesville Circuit Court. That happened last year in Pittsylvania County when the Board of Supervisors there deadlocked 3-3 on a replacement for Banister District Supervisor Jessie Barksdale

Last year, there were three vacancies on the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors which were all filled by that elected body. All three ran in special elections last November, but only one was elected to a regular term. Both Prince Edward County and Pittsylvania County are in Virginia’s Fifth District.

Fifth District Community Engagement!

Albemarle County has had a resignation in recent years. Chris Dumler vacated the Scottsville seat in 2013 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery after being arrested the previous October for one count of forcible sodomy. My Charlottesville Tomorrow story from June 5, 2013 for the details

Whoever Council appoints would have to run in the November election if they wanted to stay on. But first, that person has to be appointed first.

Snook said there will be an application process for people wanting to fill the seat. The Albemarle School Board recently filled a vacancy for the White Hall District in that fashion. 

“The dates that I’m suggesting is that we call for applicants by January 30, the last Monday in January,” Snook said. “We would have a public hearing for comments, endorsements, and so on the following Monday, February 6, our regular meeting and then we commit to making our decision no later than February 21.” 

Council voted 5 to 0 to enact that schedule into action. Councilors then offered their laments.

“We spent a lot of time together over the last really four years, three years on Council and one year going to so many meetings and so many forums and everything else,” Snook said. “I have always valued in particular your awareness and knowledge of and sensitivity to problems of mental health.” 

City Councilor Michael Payne said he would miss Magill on Council. The pair have often voted as a bloc. 

“The past three years have not been easy at all, not just with the political environment in Charlottesville but the global pandemic and the impact that’s had for everyone and their families,” said City Councilor Michael Payne. “I think your voice and perspective will be missed on Council and I hope we don’t really lose sight of the focus you’ve had throughout your life on homelessness, social services, mental health care, and things that it’s easy for local government to overlook.”

In his remarks, Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade referred to a practice that allows Councilors to evade open meeting rules when getting briefing from city staff.

“You know, as we have these 2-2-1 meetings, you have been my partner with that and being able to work really well together,” Wade said. “We’re just going to miss, there have been so many times with four gentlemen up here, what we would have missed out on if you hadn’t said ‘Hey guys! What about so-and-so?” 

Councilor Brian Pinkston also expressed his view that Magill will be missed.

“I’ve been grateful for your support and friendship and support over the years ever since we were on the Board of Region 10 together,” Pinkston said. “I know this has been a very decision for you and I admire your courage and doing it and looking out for your family.”

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the January 4, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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