Anson Parker, a 37-year-old web developer who has lived in Charlottesville for two decades, was nominated by the local Republican Party on Saturday, May 30, to be a candidate for City Council in the November election.
Acknowledging that it is a “reasonable statement” to describe his approach as more technocratic than ideological, Parker told the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner in an interview following his nomination that “I want to be open-minded in a lot of ways. I want to be pragmatic.”
Only one Republican has been elected to Charlottesville’s city council in the past 30 years, suggesting that GOP candidates face a difficult challenge. Parker brushed aside concerns that running as a Republican is an obstacle to his election.
“I think it’s an opportunity because when I tell people I’m running as a Republican,” he said, “it blows their minds.”
Not national but local
People told him that he should run as a Democrat because of the city’s voting record but “I say, no, my goals are conservative.” When they ask what kind of conservative he is and whether he’s running on issues like abortion or gay rights, he says, with emphasis, “It’s no, no, no. This is about local issues.”
Gay rights and abortion, he explained, “are not even local issues. Those are state and federal issues.”
For Parker, the campaign “is about what we do in Charlottesville and fiscal conservatism in Charlottesville is broadly accepted,” he said.
“There are a multitude of people who are liberal at a national level who don’t like to see their money wasted locally.”
As a result, he noted, “I’ve actually found that being Republican to be a great talking point. I’m conservative locally and this has nothing to do with a national audience. This is Charlottesville.”
Parker explained that he was motivated to run for City Council because “there are a lot of gaps in the technical infrastructure, and since I’m a web developer I felt I could bring something to the table to help.”
He said that technology can improve government transparency and, in turn, improve citizens’ views of city government workers.
He gave the example of a cell phone app that helps identify potholes needing repairs: It can both nudge the repair process forward and provide a way to acknowledge the hard work of the city employee who fixes it.
“I want to look at this as an opportunity for the city to show off what good work it does,” Parker said, “because 99 percent of the time that’s what’s going on [but] people aren’t really appreciated. It’s the one percent of the time when people aren’t doing good work that gets a lot of press. I’m hoping that by making a more transparent system we can improve city relations” with residents.
The Democratic Party will nominate its general election candidates for City Council in a primary on Tuesday, June 9. There are five candidates seeking three slots: Wes J. Bellamy, Kathleen M. Galvin, Lena M. Seville, A. Michael Signer, and Dede L. Smith. Incumbent Mayor Satyendra Huja chose not to seek re-election.
Independent candidates who want their names on the November ballot must file their paperwork, including petitions with a minimum of 125 signatures, by June 9 at 7:00 p.m., the same time the polls close in the primary election.