Mayor Nikuyah Walker announced she will be running for re-election to Charlottesville’s City Council during a Facebook livestream Friday.
“I’m here, I’m staying, I’m running. I hope you’re with me, because one person can’t do this alone, and let’s get it done,” Walker said.
Walker, 41, will run as an independent, same as she did when she was first elected in 2017.
Walker said during a Facebook livestream Monday that she was still undecided and would make a formal announcement about her decision by Friday.
Walker said in February 2020 that she planned to run for a second term, but hadn’t spoken about it again until Monday. She did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
In January, the newly elected council will select one councilor to serve as mayor for the coming year.
In her announcement, Walker discussed challenges she has faced serving on the City Council, specifically as a Black woman, and how she took these into consideration when making her decision.
“One Black person on council is not enough,” Walker said. “We have to continue to fight so much harder than anyone else for our lives to be considered important.”
“Even though I’ve always been kind of ready to battle with people, it’s been a challenge to be under attack all the time,” she said.
“My body is telling me that you all will destroy me,” Walker said. “But then there’s a flipside to that … all the people who say … ‘I’m a little bit more comfortable about this world because I get to watch you [as mayor].’”
Walker has faced criticism from community members during her first four-year term. She also was thrust into the spotlight in March after a graphic Facebook post she wrote about the legacy of racism in Charlottesville went viral and made national news.
While some community members lauded Walker’s post as an accurate depiction of racism in Charlottesville, she also received an onslaught of criticism nationwide for the sexually explicit nature of the post and perceived negativity toward the city.
Walker has voiced frustration with the city’s process to amend City Council credit card use policies, stating she felt the issue was only brought up due to concerns about her own credit card usage and that she was being unfairly targeted.
Walker said she is “exhausted” by her work on the council and the backlash she has faced, but ultimately decided to run because she feels a responsibility to work for change, especially for the Black community.
“I’ve been hopeful that there is someone, and maybe that someone will show themselves during this election cycle, who will pick up, and who will be more strategic and who will get Charlottesville to move in that direction. And then I don’t have to be here, but I think we have to see,” she said.
Walker said she is dedicated to building affordable housing and creating youth centers. She also discussed the importance of criminal justice reform in the city.
“We know that everyone is watching to see what Charlottesville will do, and we have to dig deep and look at ourselves and make sure that we are doing that right,” she said.
Candidates will compete for two open seats on the council — those currently held by Walker and Heather Hill, who chose not to run for re-election.
Walker will be challenged by Yas Washington, an independent, and the two winners of the June 8 Democratic Party primary. Carl Brown, Brian Pinkston and Juandiego Wade are running for the Democratic nomination.
Walker said she will be providing more information about her campaign during a Facebook live at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. She also said she looks forward to participating in future candidate forums and she plans to be more strategic with this campaign than she was with her first one.