Mallek and Rykal appear at Crozet Town Hall Candidate Forum

According to the 2020 U.S Census, the White Hall Magisterial District had a population of 20,859, or a sixth of the overall population in Albemarle. Crozet is a Census Designated Place with a 2020 count of 9,224. View the Census webpage for more information

Crozet is also the largest stand-alone growth area in Albemarle, with all others abutting the City of Charlottesville. Development is to be guided by the Crozet Master Plan which was last updated in October 2021 according to the Daily Progress

At a September 11, 2023 town hall in Crozet, the two candidates for the White Hall District were asked to introduce themselves. Incumbent Ann Mallek began by explaining how she spent many years as an advocate and activist before seeking her first term in 2007.

“Over 20 years I learned about process and expertise on topics,” Mallek said. “Prior to being elected, I studied, I spoke at Board meetings and advocated about issues. I have a record on it.” 

Mallek said she studies each agenda packet for each meeting to prepare to ask questions of staff. 

We’ll hear more from Mallek later, as she appeared at two other candidate forums whereas her opponent Brad Rykal declined to attend the Free Enterprise Forum and the Senior Statesmen Forum. Rykal said he chose to be an independent for a reason.

“Republicans think I’m Democrat and Democrats think I’m Republican so I’m on to something there,” Rykal said. 

Rykal served in the U.S. Army and served two terms in Iraq. He’s been a chief operating officer of a private company and said his experience managing budgets prepares him for local government. 

“My experience is in getting things done,” Rykal said. “Conversely I think we’re tired of hearing excuses of why things that have been listened to and planned for aren’t getting done and these excuses sound compelling. Supervisor Mallek is one of the most polished politicians you will ever come across in your life.” 

Rykal said he was running to represent Crozet and said living there qualifies him to speak for the community. 

Questions at this forum focused on Crozet and infrastructure needs. Planning for one of the roadways called for in the plan suffered an implementation setback this year when the cost estimate rose to nearly $39.5 million.  (read my story from August 25)

Rykal lamented that it has not yet been built. 

“It was a critically important piece of infrastructure for Crozet,” Rykal said. “It was a third way in and out and to be able to maneuver around and something we’ve been planning for for 20 years and the number of beds increasingly skyrocketed over that same amount of time.”

Rykal had this interpretation of the discussion in August of the cost escalation. 

“The county came forward and said ‘hey, let’s not do it,’ so the plan as of right now is that it’s never going to be done,” Rykal said. 

Mallek said the project is not canceled.

“It is being redesigned, remastered and perhaps relocated in an effort to reduce costs but that is all of the information that’s available today,” Mallek said. 

Keep in mind this is now from September 11 and there is new information about transportation in Albemarle that I still need to get back to writing about soon. 

Mallek said she was shocked about the cost escalation of the Eastern Avenue project but said it is crucial to public safety in Crozet. She said she has not given up on bringing the project to implementation. 

That’s just a small flavor of the Crozet Town Hall forum. If you want to learn more, read Lisa Martin’s piece in the October edition of the Crozet GazetteThat periodical has also posted the entire video for more. There’s also a forum between School Board candidates. 

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 October 14, 2023 edition.

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