David Slutzky to Challenge Rob Bell?

Might Democrat David Slutzky challenge and unseat long-term incumbent Rebublican Rob Bell in the 58th District? That’s the question raised by Brian McNeill at the Daily Progress today.

This would be an interesting race for the Charlottesville Area Realtor Association for many, many reasons. The core reasoning behind Mr. Slutzky’s possible challenge is transportation and taxes, specifically the proposed regional sales tax to fund transportation:

Charlottesville and Albemarle County want the approval of the General Assembly to form a regional transit authority, as well as permission to raise an as-yet-to-be-determined tax to pay for transportation projects and transit initiatives. A referendum on the issue likely would be put before Charlottesville-area voters before any new taxes are raised.

Advocates of the idea, such as Slutzky, point out that the General Assembly — and the GOP-led House of Delegates, in particular — has failed in recent years to approve a sufficient and reliable funding stream for transportation. That leaves localities, he said, with little choice but to pick up the state’s responsibility.

At a meeting in late October, Slutzky suggested that he would throw down the gauntlet if Bell opts not to support the referendum, which Slutzky said would let the residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle County make their own decision about taxes for transportation.

“We will pillory him in the press,” Slutzky said, according to a podcast of the Oct. 31 meeting recorded by Charlottesville Tomorrow. “Then we run against him and we kick his ass out. Not to be subtle.”

Advocates have said the best tax increase option would be to raise the local sales tax by 1 cent, a measure that would raise an estimated $26 million annually in Albemarle County and Charlottesville.

Bell pointed out that the economy is in a recession and it might not be the right time to ask Charlottesville-area families to pay more for buses, bike lanes and road projects.

“I am very skeptical of a tax increase,” he said. “Especially one of that magnitude. Especially right now.”

Bell added that it is premature to be talk about a possible political race next year.

In an interview, Slutzky said that if Bell opposes the referendum, it would be a “trigger” for him to lean toward challenging the Republican next year.

“If he says no to that, it’d be a strong motivation for me to run,” Slutzky said. “If members of the General Assembly don’t trust our citizens to make our own choices, then they should be replaced.”

Cvillenews summarized Slutzky’s victory in 2005:

David Slutzky

Office: Board of Supervisors, Rio District

Party: Democratic

Number of votes: 2,082

Biggest donors: CAAR, Oakwood Farm, Benjamin Brewster, Terence Seig, Ted Weschler

What it means: He’ll rally against the West-ern Bypass and for alternative transportation.

2000 votes! 2000 votes put him into office! Every vote matters.

Here’s the thing –

1 – The Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors endorsed David Slutzky and was one of the driving forces behind his getting elected.

2 – The Charlottesville Realtors’ Association have said that they would not oppose a sales tax and in fact have said that they support it because it’s a broad-based tax. (This also reflects a long-standing position to support a broad-based tax to fund transportation, according to Dave Phillips with CAAR.

3 – The local Realtor Association has always supported Rob Bell.

We need a dedicated stream of funding to fund needed transportation projects – roads, trails, bike lanes, rail … but we need to be able to trust the government that they’ll spend OUR money as we intend for them to. If we keep the money local, we have a much better chance of holding our representatives accountable. God knows we can’t trust government right now with anything more than they have in their pockets at any given moment.

If nothing else, if David Slutzky moves on, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors’ race in 2009 will be fascinating and crucial.

More at cvillenews.

* I wish VPAP had the funding history from the 2005 election so that I could reference how much money was given to Slutzky and by whom.

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