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Walker to continue as Charlottesville mayor; Magill named vice mayor

Mayor Nikuyah Walker has been selected for a second term as the Charlottesville’s ceremonial leader.

Walker was appointed mayor on a 3-2 vote in the new City Council’s first action of the new year.

Walker and Councilors Michael Payne and Sena Magill voted in favor of her appointment. Councilors Heather Hill and Lloyd Snook voted against it.

No other nominations were made for the position.

“It is draining and very hard work, but to know that the individuals who have the least are heard the most when I am in the room, it fills my heart,” Walker said. “There is no way to do this work anywhere in the world without elevating people who have been oppressed.”

Magill was appointed vice mayor on a 4-1 vote. Payne and Hill, who has served in the role for the past two years, also were nominated. Snook voted for Hill.

In Charlottesville’s council-manager form of government, the mayor is a figurehead with no real power other than running meetings and setting the agenda. The vice mayor runs meetings in the mayor’s absence.

Walker was appointed mayor on a 4-1 vote in January 2018 in the fallout of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally.

Walker is the first mayor to serve more than one term since Satyendra Huja stepped down in 2015. Former Councilor Mike Signer served only one term.

In comments before the vote, Hill and Snook focused on respectful public discourse. The conduct of council meetings has been a sore point for some community members in the past few years.

“The selection of a mayor should be about how things should be done, not what should be done,” Snook said.

Snook’s comments on councilors respecting each other were met with groans from the audience.

Hill said that all the councilors had a goal of working for the common good.

Much of the concerns about the conduct of council meetings has centered around Walker’s role in running meetings and keeping order. Payne said that blaming her is a symptom of systemic racism.

“We need to send a clear message to the country that we are confronting institutional racism,” he said.

Walker endorsed Payne’s campaign for the council, making Magill the swing vote on who would be mayor.

“Whatever decision I end up voting for and making on this dais today will disappoint people who voted for me,” Magill said. “When decisions come to it, I have to vote with my heart.”


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