“It depends on where you sit”
How this blackout affects a given individual will largely depend on the level of engagement they have with city government, said Charlene Green, deputy director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance nonprofit.
There are people who won’t see any change or a lot of change, said Green, who was previously director of the Charlottesville Human Rights Office and headed the Race dialogue (a city-sponsored project that started in 2008 and aimed to improve race relations throughout the community). They may very well get to work. Their gas and water are still working, the streets are cleaned, the garbage is collected.
But people who depend on the social services provided by the city might have a very different experience.
“When you engage with the city on a level that may seem superficial, you may not see the impact deeper below the surface for people who may receive social services or depend on help from the Human Rights Office. Human Rights Office or the Human Rights Office. police department, or one of those, ”Green said.
“And again, it depends on where you sit,” Green continued. “If you are part of the population where the issues that have always concerned you have not always been treated in the way that you felt you deserved their attention, whether it is for people who identify as a black person or brunette, or someone in a low wealth area, someone with a disability – these are ongoing issues that really impact your hope that something will change or get things done.
Sometimes, she added, that hope is really what keeps people hanging on.
Municipal government influences so many things fundamental to the community – education, the criminal justice system, housing, to name a few – that “hopefully these institutions stay focused and do what they want. ‘it is necessary, so that the level of discomfort does not stop. to do [people] the impression that things are falling apart [them]”Green said. It is imperative that the community can have confidence in public programs,” she said.
Lack of trust in city government can have other cascading effects, said Hartgrove of the Virginia Institute of Government. A reputation for high turnover tends to deter talented people from joining city staff as employees – or, most importantly, leaders.
Several council members have already raised concerns about whether the city will be able to attract talented candidates for the best jobs.
“Every organization is made up of people, that’s what drives it,” Hartgrove said. “You want consistency and your organization to be known as a good place to work. “
At some point, this bad reputation can spill over into the general public.
Ty Cooper, a local entrepreneur, filmmaker and founder of the Black Business Fair, said changes in city government are to be expected – to some extent.
“It’s one thing when you know there is a change of government due to election years and natural turnover, but it’s another when the only thing you can expect is constant change due to election years. to any form of dysfunction, ”he said. “So that’s a problem.”
Cooper hasn’t noticed a change in his Lifeview Marketing and Visuals business due to turnover and mayoralty controversy, and the same may be true for other local business owners as well. But it is certainly important: “An unstable local community is synonymous with an unstable market. If you can’t trust the city to have a solid foundation, then faith in the market can never really exist, ”he said. “I hope that with new leadership comes a new mindset and ideas for continuity.”
Despite the instability, said Green of the Piedmont Housing Alliance, “we have to be very determined in making sure we don’t forget all the positive aspects that flow not only from the local government, but from all the community partners, the stakeholders who are trying. very, very difficult to concentrate on doing the right thing.
The drop in trust in local government is “probably the biggest impact” of all of this, Green said. “And that doesn’t mean it’s just one aspect of municipal government, whether it’s elected officials or staff. It’s that general feeling.
She always thinks of those words from Maya Angelou: “I learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
“And the feeling right now,” said Green, “isn’t as positive as some people would like. I’m not at town hall so I can’t speak to everything that’s going on in there. Behind the Scenes But as a resident of the City of Charlottesville, I have the impression that you are not sure what will happen next.
Jessie Higgins contributed to this story.