What was so special about 1969?
A recent announcement by Lee Richards that he is retiring as Charlottesville's Commissioner of the Revenue after 20 years in that office raises the possibility that there could be a contested election for that job for the first time in many years.
Forty-four years, as it happens.
The first and last time that all five constitutional offices in Charlottesville were contested was 1969, which was also the first time that Virginia voters elected a Republican as governor (Linwood Holton).
It appears that Charlottesville Republicans were unusually well-organized in 1969, since the local party was able to recruit challengers for Commonwealth's Attorney, City Treasurer, Commissioner of the Revenue, City Sergeant (apparently the equivalent of today's Sheriff), and Clerk of the Corporation Court (apparently the equivalent of today's Clerk of the Circuit Court).
According to a front-page note in the Daily Progress of November 6, 1969, “Charlottesville, in a Democratic surge in contrast to its neighbor counties, re-elect[ed] all five constitutional officers over their first GOP challenge.”
There is no voter in Charlottesville younger than 65 years of age who has ever faced a general-election choice for Commissioner of Revenue or Treasurer.
As previously reported by the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner, an April 2 special election for City Treasurer will be the first contest for that office since November 1969. In that case, independent candidate John Pfaltz is challenging incumbent Democrat Jason Vandever, who succeeded Jennifer J. Brown after she retired for health reasons in October 2012. Brown was first elected on the same ticket as Lee Richards in 1993 and, like Richards, never faced a general-election opponent.
Richards succeeded Ora Maupin, a 17-year incumbent in 1969, retired after the 1993 election with a total of 38 years in office. Maupin had run unopposed in 1965 and in each subsequent election from 1973 through 1989. (A search through city election records found that those from before 1965 are incomplete.)
Maupin's 1969 Republican challenger was Charlotte Frame, described by the Daily Progress as a “teacher of exercise and crafts for the Charlottesville Department of Recreation.”
Two potential candidates have indicated their interest in seeking he Democratic party's nomination for Commissioner of Revenue in the June 11 party primary, Jonathan Stevens and Todd Divers, although neither has filed official candidacy papers. No Republican or independent candidates for the post have so far emerged.
The filing deadline for Democratic primary candidates is 5:00 p.m. on March 28; other candidates have until 7:00 p.m. of primary day, June 11, to get their names on the general election ballot.
CORRECTION: This article has been revised to reflect the correct name of Jonathan Stevens.