While at these forums I never get a chance to say exactly what I've thought beforehand. Below is a link to the PDF of the questions and my notes (more like stream-of-consciousness rants) from the Greenbrier forum from 5/24/17...
My name is Stanford Dale Woodson and I'm running for Charlottesville City Council.
I am a long-time C'villian who truly cares about our community. Charlottesville is an amazing town with beautiful people. We also are blessed to have wonderful people working diligently and thanklessly in our local government.
However... I know that a large portion of the Charlottesville community does not live in the same world as most of our local elected leaders do. I do not have a specific platform to run on, a catchphrase 'fix the landmark' or 'stop gentrification'. But I do believe that our city council should have someone that represents the real people of Charlottesville. The people living paycheck-to-paycheck, asking around for that next gig, or counting quarters so you can run down to the corner store.
I want to listen and be the voice that represents you.
I believe that the City of Charlottesville should continue on the path that it has planned for approximately 1000 new units of public housing in the next year. This will certainly help a number of individuals and families, but the government does not have enough money to be able to fix the affordable housing problem by simply erecting enough buildings.
We need a multi-pronged approach to tackle this problem... I think we need to look at new approaches, including more market-based solutions to some of our housing issues. The issue countless people face is the extraordinarily high cost of rent.
I personally live in a housing Co-Op named CHUVA and think that out-of-the-ordinary solutions like that need to be looked into to help to find housing for more people at a more affordable rate... I am not suggesting that everyone in the City needs to start sharing houses, but from my experience it can be a really great solution for lower-income younger folks and couples trying to start their lives out.
Local landlords always tend to want a single-family unit when renting homes, but I believe by providing landlords tax incentives to rent units to multiple individuals/families that we could provide affordable options for living in the city to more people.
This is not a silver bullet that will "fix" the problem, but by approaching the issue with a multi-pronged approach (as opposed to only waiting on the city to build public housing) we can make a larger positive impact on more people in a much shorter amount of time.
The Minimum Wage:
The City of Charlottesville has been looking at raising the minimum wage of city employees from around $13/hr to $15/hr. I support the 'Fight for 15' movement and would be in favor of raising city employee pay to that $15/hr mark.
However, the issue of an absurdly low minimum wage is, in no way, solved by this initiative. We need to focus the majority of our energy on ways to gently push local employers to raise the minimum wage for their workers. It's great to have city employees making $15/hr, but when all other business are still paying employees $7.25/hr the problem is not being solved.
The last time the City Council voted to raise the city employee wages to $13/hr, the main reasoning was that this move would be to help influence other local area business to increase their minimum wage rate. That idea and raise to $13/hr took place 5 years ago and there has been little to no influence on the minimum wage rates for other employers.
Under Virginia law, Charlottesville can not legally institute a higher minimum wage for non-city businesses (as some other cities around the country have done). What our energy needs to be focused on is looking into ways to pressure local business to raise their rates. We need to look to options including either tax breaks for companies that do conform to a higher wage, or tax penalties (if it is legal) for companies that do not.
The one thing that I am sure of is that raising the city employee rates will not significantly affect everyone else's rates if the same path is followed that has been in the past.
Lee Park and the Robert E. Lee Statue
First off, I do not believe that this is as important of an issue as it has been made out to be. I want to represent you on City Council to help every citizen's day be a little bit better. That you'll get to where you're going a bit faster, that you'll have a couple extra dollars in your bank account at the end of the week, and that you'll feel a bit safer walking around town. All that the issue of the statue removal has done is to create a lot of hateful rhetoric on both sides.
I do not support the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue nor the renaming of the park. I do support park changes and the adding of signage (and perhaps other monuments) that would be used to re-contextualize the meanings of the statues. I believe we need to remember our history, regardless of how ugly and terrible it may be, to remind us how far we have come and, especially, how far we still have to go to truly bring about the end to racism.
If the removal of the statues would truly help to improve racial relations, then I would be all for the removal. But, if the statue is moved, how many people's lives will be improved when they wake up the next day. Will this solve the institutionalized racism and favoritism that truly affects minority citizens every day of their lives? I would rather spend our effort to help our citizens wake up the next day and maybe have a slightly nicer home or a better job, and I think we all need to refocus our attention on what can be done to help our citizens have better lives.
The debate on the removal of the statues has already been a huge waste of tax-payer money and has created a huge and unnecessary divide between the people of our fair city. The upcoming years of debates and lawsuits that will continue to happen will continue to unnecessarily drain our budget and increase the divide between the people of our city.
I grew up as a missionary kid who was born in Chile and lived in Mexico until the age of 12. With that history of travel, I have always known that the Charlottesville area will always be my true home. I have deep family roots going back centuries in Fluvanna County, I had the privilege of attending Fluvanna High School and the University of Virginia, and have lived in many different areas of the city over the past years.
After graduating from UVa in 2008 with a B.A. in Sociology, I spent a year in the Peace Corps teaching technology in a school in the small town of Bochabelo in South Africa... Over the past few years I have worked in various local jobs, beginning with a stint at Vanderlinde Recycling, then a few years working as a computer technician at our local Staples stores, and currently my position with the local technology company Health Data Services.
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