Puryear named to Charlottesville City Council

Charlottesville City Council has selected a former member of the Charlottesville School Board to fill out the unexpired term of former Councilor Sena Magill. The election by the four remaining Councilors took place at the beginning of their meeting last night.

“Is there a motion for the appointment?” asked Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook. 

“Yes, Mr. Mayor,” answered Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade. “I move that the City Council appoint Leah Puryear for the uncompleted for Sena Magill.” 

The vote was unanimous and Puryear was sworn in immediately but will not actually begin her term until February 27 when the human resources paperwork is complete. 

“I’d like to say thank you to all of the Councilors for all of the time and energy and effort you put into this process,” Puryear said. “I’d like to say thank you to all 19 people plus myself that applied. And to those of us who made the final round, I had some very tough competition and I was very much aware of that but I am willing to do the work and roll up my sleeves and get started.” 

Charlottesville Circuit Court Clerk Llezelle Dugger swears in Leah Puryear to an unexpired term on City Council on February 21, 2023 (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

Puryear is the director of the Uplift@UVA program, which used to be named Upward Bound. 

Councilors thanked everyone who applied for the position. 

“It’s makes me feel good about the city and the future that we have where we have some newer folks that have expressed interest in serving,” said Councilor Brian Pinkston. 

Vice Mayor Wade served four terms on the School Board alongside Puryear. Both won races in 2006 as part of the first elected School Board race in Charlottesville. 

“This was difficult and this was a trust that the public gave to us to make this decision for the next ten months and it’s something that we did not take lightly as we went through this discussion,” Wade said. 

The first Council meeting Puryear is eligible to attend will be next Tuesday when Council will have a joint work session with the Planning Commission on the first module of the draft zoning code.

Puryear went first during the February 6 City Council meeting when applicants on the short-list had up to eight minutes to have their say. Puryear explained that she moved here in November 1980.

“We all have experienced difficult times but through those times we have all learned,” Puryear said. “It is my hope that Charlottesville will continue to be a community that understands the importance of diversity.” 

Of the three concepts, of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Puryear said inclusion is the key. 

“I will be at the table,” Puryear said. “I will be included. But more important, I will be respected. I will be heard. I will be able to participate. I will practice effective listening. We must listen. We must hear what our community is saying.”

Puryear said working in higher education as an administrator and on the School Board, she’s worked with budgets and has built many relationships with those at the University of Virginia and Albemarle County.

“The three of us must work together,” Puryear said. “We must collaborate. We must partner. I want to be your mirror. I want to be the new set of eyes that will look at the budget.” 

Puryear comes on Council at a time when the city is about to implement the results of a compensation study. During her testimony, Puryear referenced poems by Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou. 

Podcast listeners can hear her whole testimony. 

le-UVA Emergency Communications Center)

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 February 22, 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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