Archive for the 'Programs' Category

Candidate Forum for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Virginia House of Delegates 25th and 58th Districts

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Candidates for contested Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Virginia House of Delegates Districts 25 and 58 participated in this forum. For Albemarle County Board of Supervisors: Ann Mallek (D) and Steve Harvey (R) (White Hall District) and Donna Price (D) (Scottsville District) participated. Michael Hallahan (R) of the Scottsville District was not available.

For the Virginia House of Delegates 25th district: Janice Allen (I) and Jennifer Kitchen (D) attended. Chris Runion (R) was not available.  For the 58th district: Elizabeth Alcorn (D) attended and Rob Bell (R) was not available.

The program was moderated by SSV president Rich DeMong.  A podcast of the forum is below.

Ann Mallek, Steve Harvey and Donna Price

Janice Allen, Jennifer Kitchen and Elizabeth Alcorn

Program Summary

SSV sponsored a double-header Candidates Forum for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors contested seats and the candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates 25th and 58th districts. With standing room only, and both forums packed with questions from the audience, it is impossible to capture even a glimpse of the content in our limited space here. However, extensive media coverage was provided by several outlets including WVIR NBC 29, CBS 19 News, The Daily Progress and the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. The Daily Progress took the unusual measure of devoting an entire page for the coverage of the forums. Here are links to some of the media reports:

Candidate Forum – Charlottesville City Council

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Candidates for the Charlottesville City Council presented their views on many of the issues and priorities for the City. Bellamy Brown (I), John Hall (I), Paul Long (I) and Michael Payne (D) participated in the forum. Senal Magill (D) and Lloyd Snook (D) had prior commitments and were unable to attend.

The program will be moderated by SSV Secretary Peppy Linden. The podcast link is below.


Bellamy Brown (I), 40, who grew up in the city’s Venable neighborhood, stood in the sanctuary of the Rosser Avenue church his grandfather founded and formally announced his run for the council. He has graduate degrees in finance and accounting, served in the U.S. Marine Corps, is studying politics and leadership and hopes to sit on the Charlottesville City Council.

Brown is the grandson of the late Rev. Charles H. Brown, who was a leader in the city’s African American community and at the forefront of early efforts in affordable housing.

From The Daily Progress, June 29, 2019: photo by Andrew Shurtleff; text excerpted from Bryan McKenzie

Michael Payne (D) is a community organizer focusing on addressing Charlottesville’s affordable housing crisis. He worked with Habitat for Humanity Virginia and the Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition, and co-founded Indivisible Charlottesville — a group dedicated to fighting for progressive causes throughout central Virginia.

Michael was born and raised in central Virginia. After graduating from Albemarle High School, he attended the College of William and Mary, then returned to Charlottesville to fight for affordable housing.

Photo and text from:

Lloyd Snook (D) grew up in Charlottesville. He attended Venable Elementary School and Walker Junior High, and graduated from Lane High School in 1970.  He graduated from Stanford with an A.B. in Economics, and worked as an investment analyst for two years before going to the University of Michigan School of Law. He concentrated his studies in criminal and constitutional law, and graduated cum laude in 1979.  He and Sheila Haughey were married the day after they graduated from the University of Michigan School of Law.

Program Summary

SSV Secretary Peppy Linden and the candidates.

The following report is excerpted from the coverage provided by WVIR NBC29, reported by Lottye Lockhart and edited by Chris Markham. The entire content can be viewed at

City Council Candidates Discuss Statues, Taxes, Affordable Housing in Forum

 Several candidates for Charlottesville City Council got together at The Center on Wednesday to talk about their plans if they get elected. The candidates were asked a variety of questions – ranging from how they’d work between themselves and with the public, as well as their stance on the Confederate statues in downtown Charlottesville.

Independent City Council candidate John Hall stated Judge Richard Moore ruled in May that the statues are war memorials and are protected by state law. “We can’t move them without changing Virginia constitution and I don’t think we’re going to do that because there’s too much respect and appreciation of the statues.”

Each City Council candidate was asked whether they would remove the statues if they could. Independent Paul Long and Democrat Michael Payne were both in favor of removing the statues. “We’re one country, we’re Americans, we’re all members of the United States and citizens of the United States,” Long said. “I don’t see why we keep on discussing it.”

Independent candidate Bellamy Brown avoided giving an answer to the question on this hot-button topic. “I can’t reconcile at the end of the day that that’s going to improve someone’s life,” Brown said.

People at the candidate forum also had questions about how they would handle taxes. Payne suggested a tax increment finance district, while Hall and Brown asked how fiscally responsible the city is now. Long said business growth is another important factor. “When we have business people that are willing to invest in this city, trying to solve the city’s problems, we have to be willing to work with them and we have to make sure we’re letting businesses know that we are a good place to move to and have business.,” Long said.

When asked about how to stop the disruptions that sometimes occur during council meetings, responses varied: Payne claims there is a lack of trust between elected leaders and the community, while Brown said more communication needs to happen between them. Long and Hall showed support for Mayor Nikuyah Walker’s efforts to address racial issues. “I think Mayor Walker has certainly opened our eyes to the injustices of the past,” Hall said. “But if we are to move forward into the future as a free and thoughtful people, we’re going to have to put certain things behind us.”

Charlottesville and the Rise of the Alt-Right

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

The torch-lit marches and white-power terrorism that occurred in Charlottesville in August 2017 shocked the residents and the nation. Actually the city had been under siege for several months during what anti-racists activists called “The Summer of Hate.” Why did this group of neo-Nazis and alt-right activists target Charlottesville? How did they build a base here? And where do they fit in the city’s history of black life, white supremacy, and progressive politics? This was discussed by Nicole Hemmer, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. A podcast of the presentation and Q&A is below. Start the podcast and then click here for the PowerPoint used. The program was moderated by SSV past president Bob McGrath.

Dr. Hemmer covered the events of August 11 and 12 for Vox, where she is a columnist. She is the creator, producer, and host of the podcast series “A12: The Story of Charlottesville,” named by The Guardian as one of the best podcasts of 2018.

Hemmer is an expert on the history of American politics and media. As an assistant professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center, she works on a wide-ranging set of projects, both scholarly and public. She works in the Presidential Recordings Program, focusing on the Nixon administration and its media relations. Her broader scholarship focuses on the history of conservatism and media. Her first book, Messengers of the Right, Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics, charts the history of conservative media activism in the United States, and her current work-in-progress is a history of conservatism in the 1990s.

Hemmer is also an active public intellectual, appearing frequently in print and on air. She is founder and editor of the Washington Post’s “Made by History” blog, a contributing editor to Vox, and she also writes as a syndicated columnist for Fairfax Media in Australia. She co-hosts and produces the popular history podcast Past Present. Her commentary on U.S. politics has appeared in numerous national and international outlets, including the New York Times, Politico, Atlantic, New Republic, Vox, Los Angeles Times, and NPR’s Morning Edition. She provides regular analysis to Australian and American broadcast outlets, on both radio and television.

Hemmer holds an appointment as a research associate at the United States Studies Center at the University of Sydney, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in 2011-12. She received her PhD in U.S. history from Columbia University, and previously taught at the University of Miami. In 2015, she was a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Program Summary

“When the Fascists Came to Town” was a commentary on Charlottesville history and why the Alt-Right chose Charlottesville to focus their attention. The well told narrative of Charlottesville being the home of three presidents has another story of Charlottesville being the home to successful African American and Jewish communities. In the 1920 with the rise of the KKK and oppression of blacks and Jews there was a change in attitudes.

More recent history after the Charleston Massacre when Dylann Roof committed mass murder of nine African Americans in a black church, attitudes again changed, and people were looking for a more balanced presentation of history. Thus, the focus on statues arose.

Emboldened by the Trump election, the Alt-Right in the summer of 2017 under the leadership of Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler planned a rally in Charlottesville. The goal was to reframe the argument that the Alt-Right protest was not a white supremacy v. anti-racism event, but rather the Alt-Right was a mainstream movement promoting free speech and it was the left which was intolerant. The organizers even told participants not to bring Nazi flags, etc. However, the participants did not listen. The torchlight march at the University on August 11 undid the free speech argument of the Alt-Right and by the next day the Alt-Right was seen not to be a proponent of free speech, but rather a violent organization intending to do harm.

Virginia General Assembly Legislative Report (2019)

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

The annual recap of the recently concluded Session of the Virginia General Assembly was presented by our local legislators, Senator Creigh Deeds (D) and Delegates Steve Landes (R) and David Toscano (D). Delegates Bell and Fariss and Senator Reeves declined to participate.

The program was moderated by SSV vice president and program committee chair Bonnie Brewer. Listen to the podcast (press Audio MP3) and then start the PowerPoint by clicking here.

Program Summary

May’s SSV program was the annual General Assembly recap. All our local representatives were invited, and Sen. Creigh Deeds and Delegates Steve Landes and David Toscano were able to attend. Representatives each gave an opening statement about their individual efforts with explanatory comments about their positions. In addition, they each provided background information and additional details about why they voted the way they did.

This was a good year for funding the budget due to windfall from new federal tax law, a good economy and the new ability to tax internet sales. Virginia has chosen to use some of the funds for the VA Housing Trust, a pay raise for teachers and hiring more school counselors.

Another topic was redistricting. To become code the bill passed this year must pass next year with the same language and then be approved by the voters as an amendment to the VA constitution.

Route 81 improvements will require a gas tax increase affecting only areas near Route 81. Sen. Deeds explained that this is because when northern Virginia had highway improvements, other areas of the state did not feel they should pay the cost, so now the 81 improvements will be paid by the local residents over 20 years with an approximate cost increase of 6-8 cents per gallon.

In answer to the question about the tax benefits used to attract Amazon, each panel member felt that the value to the whole state and the fact that all states are trying to attract business and offer perks made the offer worthwhile.

This SSV program was the final SSV General Assembly appearance for retiring delegates David Toscano and Steve Landes. The program ended with the group thanking all the delegates for their service to Virginia and attendance at SSV programs.

A Free-Enterprise Solution To Climate Change

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Former United States Congressman Bob Inglis talks about conservative economics and ethics principles for climate action.

Bob Inglis was elected to the United States Congress in 1992 where he represented Greenville-Spartanburg, SC, from 1993-98 and from 2004 to 2010.

In 2011, Inglis went full-time into promoting free enterprise action on climate change and launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative (E&EI) at George Mason University. In 2014, E&EI re-branded to become, a growing grassroots community of over 5000 members educating the country about free-enterprise solutions to climate change. Listen to his presentation that was moderated by Past President Bob McGrath.

For his work on climate change Inglis was given the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He appears in the film Merchants of Doubt and in the Showtime series YEARS of Living Dangerously (episodes 3 and 4). He has given talks at the TEDx Jacksonville and TEDx BeaconStreet events and has been interviewed on various national news programs.

He was a resident fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics in 2011, a visiting fellow at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2012, and a resident fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Politics in 2014.

Inglis grew up in the Low country of South Carolina, graduated from Duke and the University of Virginia School of Law and practiced commercial real estate law in Greenville, S.C., before and between his years in Congress. Bob, his wife, and five children live on a small farm in Greenville County.

Program Summary

Bob Inglis, former Republican Congressman from South Carolina and current executive director of, presented a program on the conservative case for climate change action. He developed his interest as a result of a congressional science trip to Antarctica where he observed the results of deep core drilling tests that showed an increase in CO2 in the air at the time of the industrial revolution. It is an undisputed fact of science that burning fossil fuels leads to chemical changes in the air. He explained the scientific evidence example that increased CO2 can lead to disappearance of coral reefs by 2050.

His basic philosophy to solving this problem, based on conservative values, is to fix the economic factors that lead to the introduction of CO2 into the air involves a “pay to play” process. In short that would involve a graduated carbon tax that would charge for emitting carbon dioxide and an end of subsidies and tax credits to wind, solar and nuclear groups. This would make the cost of the product reflect its actual price. As a result of this wind, solar and nuclear energy would become cost competitive and there would be an abundance of energy available.

When asked about the rest of world contributing to the CO2 problem, he suggested a border carbon tax from those who want to import to the US and produce goods that don’t follow the CO2 rules. His argument for this was implemented by the thought that other governments would tax the offenders rather than pay the tax to the US. There seems to be growing bipartisan support for several of his comments.

The final factor to determine the success of human activity reducing climate change is timely implementation of policies. Mr. Inglis feels that free enterprise moves more quickly than governments in effecting change, so that is where the best solution lies.

Cybersecurity: Making Cyberspace Open, Interoperable, Secure and Reliable

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

What are the major cyber security threats and challenges facing us in 2019 and beyond? What are the Federal Government’s primary roles and responsibilities? What is the Commonwealth of Virginia doing to tackle cyber security? Find the answers to these questions and more in this interesting podcast moderated by SSV president Rich DeMong. First download the view graphs that were presented.

Thomas A. Dukes, Jr., is the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Virginia National Guard, as well as an adjunct professor of cyber law and policy at the University of Virginia and the University of Tartu, Estonia.  He previously served as the U.S. State Department’s Deputy Coordinator for Cyber Issues, as a senior trial attorney in the U.S. Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and as an active duty U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate.  He earned a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law and a BA from the University of Maine at Farmington.

Program Summary

Cybersecurity threats would include cyberespionage to seek political, economic and military advantage over the US, cyber enabled theft and extortion against US networks and US elections interference. The role of the US has been one of leadership in developing a strategy for managing cybersecurity. The global use of the internet has different countries having different thoughts on how this should be accomplished. US presidents have initiated several commissions to present a federal policy, but currently there is not one though individual states have their own. The UN has also tried to form a global policy, but without success. In principle all parties agree on the goal of an open, reliable and secure network.
In speaking about Virginia specifically, the state government has several cybersecurity initiatives: Cybersecurity Strategy (2016),, Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) , Attorney General of Virginia, Virginia Dept of Public Safety, VA National Guard and VA Department of Emergency Management.
The internet has radically changed our world and it is important to remember how young this field of technology really is. On June 29,2007 the first iPhone was released. Cybersecurity is an evolving field trying to maintain a balance between freedom and safety.

Affordable Housing – The Status in Charlottesville & Albemarle

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

What are the roles of the City and County in the growth of affordable housing? Does location matter? “Rural vs. Urban” or “Rural plus Urban?” What can the agencies do to help. Stacy Pethia and Sunshine Mathon addressed this at our Wednesday February 13, 2019 meeting. The program was moderated by SSV board member Peppy Linden. Listen to this interesting podcast after downloading the view-graph presentation.

In December Stacy Pethia became the principal planner for Housing for Albemarle County. Previously she coordinated Housing Programs in the City and managed Charlottesville’s Affordable Housing Fund. Stacy has a PhD in Urban Regeneration Policy from the University of Birmingham and a BA in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.





Sunshine Mathon became executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance in 2017. The mission of Piedmont Housing Alliance is to create affordable housing opportunities and foster community through education, lending, and equitable development. Prior to that Sunshine served as the director of real estate development for Foundation Communities in Austin, Texas. Sunshine has a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Physics from Bates College.



Program Summary

Stacy Pethia and Sunshine Mahone discussed the current status of affordable housing in our area. Both speakers acknowledged that this is not just a local, but also a national problem affecting both urban and rural areas.

Stacy started her presentation by defining affordable housing — less than 30% of household income including rent, mortgage, utilities and taxes is spent on housing. She stated that greater than 30% of county residents are housing burdened, 50% of those pay more than 50% of household income for housing and of that group 25% are 55 years or older. Barriers to affordable housing are economic including not only income, but also cost of construction and decreased levels of funding. Regulatory barriers including zoning and land use policies prevent building affordable housing as well as social barriers such as discrimination and NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitudes.

Sunshine discussed the needs between urban and rural areas such as costs of transportation and staffing requirements. Tax credits are a large part of building affordable housing for developers. In order to receive these limited federal credits, localities have to have guaranteed local funding. It has been shown that individuals who have unaffordable or unstable housing have poorer health and sense of wellbeing. Regional Housing Partnership is a new group of Charlottesville, Albemarle and UVA members focused on resolving the housing crisis. Sunshine concluded with the statement that there is no perfect solution to this problem. He advised that there should be a decisive and proactive role by communities and smart spending of resources by all parties.

Albemarle Forward: How Our Schools Will Make a Difference

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Albemarle Schools are ranked #3 in the state, which is very impressive. The schools, however, continue to have significant disparities in achievement and discipline within. Although Albemarle County had a very successful school referendum two years ago (with 75% voter approval) and the last of those projects will be completed in a few months, Albemarle Schools are still working to catch up with our capital needs after the last recession and a decade of under funding capital during which 1000+ students were added to the rolls.  Albemarle Tech, an innovative learning environment for our high school students, is a new program that has had a lot of success. Increasing partnerships with community organizations in 2019 is a high-value strategic objective for the division in the new year.

Dr. Kate Acuff was elected to the Albemarle County Public School Board in November, 2013, as the representative from the Jack Jouett Magisterial District. She has been the chair for almost three years. Dr. Acuff spoke at our Wednesday January 9, 2019 meeting. The program was moderated by SSV president Rich DeMong.

Start to listen to the podcast of the meeting and the Q&A session. Then the slides that accompanied Dr. Acuff can be downloaded here.

Dr. Acuff, who is a health policy consultant, serves on the Board of the University of Virginia Physicians Group, on the Board of Mental Health America-Charlottesville/Albemarle and on the Steering Committee of the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition. She previously was a consultant to the Virginia Supreme Court’s Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, an adjunct assistant professor in Emory University’s School of Public Health and a vice president of policy and education with the National Public Health and Hospitals Institute.

Dr. Acuff is a strong advocate for providing safe and healthy learning environments in schools. Among her priorities is to support collaborative programs among students, parents, school staff and other members of the community to continue the division’s progress in its bullying prevention programs. Dr. Acuff also believes that access by students to pre-K instruction should be expanded to reduce the opportunity gap among children in Albemarle County.

A native of the Midwest, Dr. Acuff is a graduate of the University of Tulsa. She received her Master’s in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of Colorado and her Ph.D. and a M.P.H. in Public Health and Public Policy and Management from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She also earned a J.D. from Georgetown University.

Program Summary

Although the Albemarle County Public School system is ranked #3 in the state there are significant disparities that are being addressed. The learning environment is changing. Artificial intelligence, robotics demand a new skill set of students today. The style of public school education needs to change to prepare the students of today for the future. The idea of teachers lecturing to students is morphing into students being asked to focus on complex problems, critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration (the five Cs). This process involves developing programs such as the opening of Albemarle Tech in the former Comdial building to simply re-configuring classroom space.

Today students are encouraged to connect with the community through internships and job training to obtain real world work experience. Dr. Acuff also discussed the challenges of the diversity of the student population with students from over 180 different countries who speak 65+ languages, and a 30% low income student base; as well as addressing the achievement opportunity gap, combating racism, recruiting and retaining teachers and capital needs that have taken a large financial setback due to the 2008 financial crisis.

In summary, the goals of the school system are to create a culture of high expectations for all, identify and remove practices that perpetuate the achievement gap, and ensure that students identify and develop personal interests.

Ending the Civil War: 1865 Until Today

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Dr. Edward Ayers of the University of Richmond spoke to the Senior Statesmen of Virginia at its December 12, 2018 meeting. He stated that Americans continue to struggle with the causes and meanings of their Civil War. He discussed our current understanding of the war, why people disagree about it, and how we might move forward.

Dr. Ayers is Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus at the University of Richmond. He has been named National Professor of the Year, received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, served as president of the Organization of American Historians, and won the Bancroft Prize in American history. Ed is one of the cohosts for BackStory, a popular podcast about American history. His newest book, The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America, received the Lincoln Prize.

Unfortunately the podcast of the meeting was corrupted and could not be recovered.  A short video of the event can be found at the CBS19 link below.

Program Summary

Dr. Ayers discussed how myths about the “Lost Cause” limits our ability to fully recover from the Civil War. He used examples from his work with the Monument Avenue Commission in Richmond to illustrate the point that some are not yet willing to accept that a major cause of the Civil War was slavery. He pointed out that the Civil War lead to the end of perpetual bondage of 4 million people which is a major event in this country.

CBS19 News summarized the meeting with the following story:

It was a packed house at the Center on Wednesday (December 12, 2018) in Charlottesville where people gathered to talk about the Civil War.

The afternoon (December 12, 2018) gathering was sponsored by the Senior Statesman of Virginia and featured the former University of Richmond President and award-winning author Edward Ayers.

He was talking about his newest book, “Thin Light of Freedom – The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America.

Ayers says the “Lost Cause” myth of the Civil War has made it difficult to teach the reality of the reason why the Civil War was fought.

“It was created precisely to deny the centrality of slavery in the Civil War,” he said. “It was to ennoble peoples fathers and brothers who had died to create a new nation or as many think of it as dismantling the United States of America.”

Ayers also says if people understand all the reasons for the war including economics, they might better understand how slavery played a huge role as the economic engine of the country at the time.” 


Four Important Political Trends That Haven’t Received the Notice They Deserve

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Senior Statesmen Vice President and Program Chair, Terry Cooper, spoke about several trends in politics that have gone largely unnoticed. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV president Rich DeMong.

Mr. Cooper was a long-time Republican political consultant specializing in issues and opposition research. Terry’s current business is political analysis. He is a native of Charlottesville and a graduate of Episcopal High School, Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Listen to the podcast of the presentation and Q&A and watch the slides presented by clicking here.

Program Summary

Terry explicated four “Highlights.” The first was that “Bernie Sanders’ ideas are gaining widespread acceptance.” Precampaign impressions of Bernie were that he was intemperate, illogical, unpersuasive, a flake and an embarrassment. Now he is viewed as a nice guy with a great wife who makes a point. An August 2018 Gallup poll reported that 57% of democrats view socialism favorably, 47% view capitalism favorably, and 51% of all millennials view socialism favorably.

Terry’s second highlight is that “The big interloper is the #metoo movement.” This trend originates at least with Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, but possibly as far back as Fatty Arbuckle!  Resulting from this trend was a total refocus of the hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and it had a major impact on the 2018 elections and the directions the parties take.

Highlight #3: “The consequences of ‘wave’ elections.” Wave elections are likely to increase rather than reduce partisanship, polarization and gridlock because the damage falls disproportionally on moderates. Their districts are closely divided and therefore easier to flip. The hard left and the hard right are mostly insulated from the carnage.

Terry’s fourth Highlight: “Party loyalty.” Americans are steadily dissociating themselves from the two major parties. More now self-identify as independents than as Republicans or Democrats.