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Sage against the machine: Melampy speaks on independent clerk run and dirty Charlottesville politics

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Note: Exclusive to The Schilling Show, following is an open letter to Charlottesville voters from independent candidate for Clerk of Court, Pam Melampy:

Dear Charlottesville Voters~

Due to the media response following the Democratic Primary I felt the need to write to you the voters of Charlottesville to explain a few things that may be unclear about me and my “integrity”.

For 22 years I have served as a Deputy Clerk in both the General District and Circuit Courts. The term for the Charlottesville Circuit Court is up and available in the November 2011 General Election.

After first speaking with Jim Nix (co-chairman of the Democratic Party) and a couple of local attorneys regarding whether or not Paul Garret would be running again, and my interest in this position, I was given a thumbs up to go ahead and consider to run. After careful consideration and the verbal backing of some attorneys I met with Jim Nix and signed the Democratic Candidacy form and submitted my check for $250.00 to the Democratic Party. I had never ever been involved in any political race but because of the great response that I was receiving from the people that I had discussed my intentions with I felt good about becoming involved in the political scene! What an eye opener that has turned out to be!

Once I had signed the Declaration form for the Democratic Party and submitted my $250.00 check I never heard anything else from the Democratic Committee members or the few local attorneys that I had felt supported me in the beginning. I did however speak with Llzelle Dugger to let her know of my intentions when she informed me that she had decided that she was going to run as well. She told me that she would be announcing within the next month but still had some more “signatures” to get first. I hung up the phone wondering what she needed signatures for?  That is when I decided that maybe I should be gathering signatures as well; so that is when I started also to obtain signatures.

I want to first let everyone know that I am in no way a professional politician. I was only competing for a position for a job that I had been doing most of my adult career. I am a native of Charlottesville; born in the now “old” Martha Jefferson Hospital and living in the Charlottesville area my entire life; having graduated from Charlottesville High School.

Yes, I do work under my sister, Debbie Shipp, Clerk of the Albemarle Circuit Court. What the citizens are failing to be told is that I also worked along with her for 14 years as we were both Deputy Clerks.

No, I don’t have a law degree. What I do have is something far better for the position for which I intend on running for, which is EXPERIENCE.
I have worked for over 22 years in the clerk’s office in every department that there is so I do have the knowledge and the experience to know what goes on in this office and the procedures involved in the day to day functions.

After submitting my Declaration for the Democratic Party nomination form and my $250.00 check I then found out that Mr. Garrett was also going to run and my supporters that I once felt that I had were now backing another candidate that had decided a month from my announcement to run as well.

I was now basically on my own; involved in a race in which I was completely new to, but I have always been one to give everything that I do 100% and fight until the end! If the Democratic committee would have been honest with me from the beginning and would have told me that they were considering another individual to support as their choice candidate then I would have clearly stepped aside and run as an Independent and would have saved my $250.00 toward my campaign fund.

I would see this thing through with or without the supporters that I once thought that I had. If I had one thing going for me it was my experience. I do know the duties inside and out of the clerk’s office as that has been my life.

With the help of a few family members I proceeded to attempt to run a campaign. I had no idea that I would be fighting an uphill battle with a Democratic Party that was controlled by a few prominent members of the city. I guess you can say that I learned all this the hard way but in a way that I will never ever forget.

As far as forums, there was only one forum held for the Clerk of Court.
With a position that pays $112,000.00 a year don’t the citizens of Charlottesville have the right to decide which candidates truly have the knowledge of the duties and responsibilities that the Clerk of Court has? The one forum that we did have conveniently was held the Saturday after an article appeared in The Daily Progress regarding the past audits of both the Charlottesville Circuit Court and the Albemarle Circuit Court which the mediator addressed first putting Mr. Garrett and myself in a negative environment from the beginning.

I raised the least amount of donations of the 3 candidates that were running for Clerk of Court. I did not have supporters who were shelling out $2,500.00 checks to me. I would never even think of asking for this amount of money for a local Clerk of Court race. What I did have was a prominent named attorney here in town writing blogs online in the area papers and TV stations and on Face book, questioning my financial reports and their accuracy. Yes, you can check it out for yourself.
Ron Wiley, a/k/a “RangeRon” made several negative statements and blogs pertaining to my knowledge and truthfulness. Later I found out that he was also a member of the notorious Democratic Committee who helped out with the “Unassembled Caucus” and helped to count the votes that night. In my opinion a committee member should not publicly support or publicly try to discredit another Democratic candidate prior to the Unassembled Caucus.

I find this to be very unethical especially for an attorney in our local community and a member of the Democratic Committee. And they question “my” integrity?!

The Democratic “Unassembled Caucus” was held on Saturday, August 20th and I did not win the Democratic Nomination. It never surprised me at all as my deck of playing cards had been stacked against me before the first hand was ever dealt out. I felt as if the Democratic Committee members had only used me as a pawn in a chess game to gently and quietly slide Paul Garrett out of a position that he had held for over 30 years. I feel as if the Democratic Committee used me to obtain my signature on their declaration form so that they could corner the market as to who their possible opponents would be in the upcoming November election. I felt as if they already had their candidate of choice waiting in the wings to uproot Mr. Garrett.

My feeling of defeat was a huge and emotional low blow. I can only imagine the hurt and deceit that Mr. Garrett must have felt.

Now I have decided to run as an Independent Candidate for the upcoming November Election. I have read the articles concerning my credibility since I had previously signed the Democratic Declaration saying that I would support the Democratic Nominee in the next election.

Yes, I did sign the Declaration.

Yes, I know exactly what it said.

Yes, I am still running as an Independent Candidate.

Why am I still running you may ask?

I am running now because of my EXPERIENCE. The experience that I have in the Clerk’s office and the experience that I just went through with the “prominent” inner circle from the Democratic Committee members who try to control the one right that we should all have – the right to VOTE for who we want to VOTE for! I felt as if I never had the support from the Democratic Committee once I had pledged to run on their ticket. Why should I feel any disloyalty to them now that I have chosen to run as an Independent?

Over the course of my campaign trail I can honestly say that I have met many, many wonderful DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS and INDEPENDENTS and have come out with one conclusion- “We ALL bleed red”.

Hopefully I will get by to see some you during my remaining weeks of my campaign, but if not, I just wanted everyone to know my side of the story and the truth about what has made me decide to run as an Independent in the upcoming November Election

I do have the future of your Clerk’s office at my best and sincere interest. I am trustworthy and dependable and extremely knowledgeable about your Clerk’s office.

I was naive the first time around but now I am a more “seasoned” and wiser player of the game.

Thanks for taking your time to hear me out~

Pam Melampy
Independent Candidate for Charlottesville Circuit Court Clerk

11 COMMENTS

  1. As a young voter myself I was excited to learn the ins and outs of the political world but after having a front row seat to the democratic parties primary I can say I am not sure if I ever want to vote in any future election knowing that they are rigged from the beginning.

  2. As a young voter myself I was excited to learn the ins and outs of the political world but after having a front row seat to the democratic parties primary I can say I am not sure if I ever want to vote in any future election knowing that they are rigged from the beginning.

    The logic of that comment is that if one election is rigged, they all must be rigged. And the logic of both Henry and Ms. Melampy here is that for party leaders to switch support from one candidate to another – for them to do what innumerable regular voters do in every election season- is dirty politics, is to rig an election. I _am_ sorry that Ms. Melampy’s integrity was impugned.

  3. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the local Democratic Party Executive Committee. I’m not even a precinct chairperson. A simple check of the actual Democratic Party website would disclose that fact. I volunteered to help count votes for the Galvin for Council campaign.
    I did comment extensively online about articles in the local media concerning the race for the nomination to become circuit court clerk and I stand by each and every one of those comments. I believe the best candidate earned the nomination and should be elected clerk. Ron Wiley, Jr. (and, yes, my e-mail and username in many contexts is RangeRon78, from being a Ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1978; lots of people who know me know that.)

  4. Pam was and still is the only candidate to contact me about the campaign. She personally came to my door to deliver literature and to put in my yard sign. Her experience in the court system, to me, is more important than Llezelle’s law degrees. I am also very impressed with her promise that if she is elected she will donate 10% of her yearly salary to the community of Charlottesville. I believe Pam was the best candidate in the primary and is now the best candidate in the general electon.

    And Mr. Riley you may not be a member of the Democratic Party Executive Committee but any by stander could see that you do play a role in the party and that your slandering of Pam’s name was to directly result in the win of Llezelle.

  5. I normally do not comment on blogs but I just had to voice my opinion on this one! I first want to say that I am a Democrat in the City of Charlottesville. I listen daily to the Rob Schilling show and after Mrs. Melampy’s visit I was curious to see her letter so I went and read it. I thought it was very sincere and well put together and gave me a complete picture of what she went through and why she decided to run as an Independent. I then read the comments and I was shocked to see a comment from
    Mr. Wiley!! He has to be Mrs. Dugger’s worst enemy. I then went back and read previous blogs and comments that Mr. Wiley had written against Mrs. Melampy and I agree with Mrs. Melampy that he had no right to speak of her so wrongly. He basically accused her of cheating with her campaign funds as he said she had way to many signs around town for the money that she had received. Well, citizens of Charlottesville- it seems that Mrs. Melampy to me can budget her campaign money far better than Mrs. Dugger. She doesn’t need the huge donations from the wealthy citizens to put her into office. Mrs. Melampy did have a lot of signs around town and if she can budget her campaign fund that well then that is who I am voting for. I did not vote in the primary as I never do but I and my family will be voting on November 8th and YES, thanks to Mr. Wiley we will be voting for Mrs. Melampy. I will spread the word to all of my friends as well. The only reason that I feel Mr. Wiley is supporting Mrs. Duggers is simple; they both happen to be attorneys and just like all doctors, lawyers, police officers, etc, they will stick together and support each other. As far as Mr. Wiley; I did find out which firm he works for and it happens to be
    Martin Wren, P.C. and I know that I will never use that firm for anything and I will let all my friends and family know. Mr. Wiley, you are not doing your firm any favors by posting comments and accusations against Mrs. Melampy.
    I hope she finds her a GOOD attorney and slaps a law suit on you! You seem to be very immature to sit around and post comments on a blog. Maybe you should go back to your Ranger thing; I think it suits you better. Mrs. Melampy also wants to give back some of her salary to the community which shows me that she does not want the job for the money and I guarantee you that she won’t be showing any attorneys favoritism. She is the person that belongs there to protect the citizens of Charlottesville from the attorney’s taking control of the Clerk’s Office. There are a lot of great attorneys in Charlottesville;
    Mr. Wiley just doesn’t happen to be one and he is bringing down his own firm and other local attorneys as well. If you look at Mr. Wiley’s web page he even has under his Honors and Awards “Eagle Scout”. Didn’t he learn anything from his Eagle Scout days??? Be smart and vote for the person who is qualified and honest. VOTE MELAMPY ON NOVEMBER 8th.

  6. I am always amused at the thought that there is one Democratic Party Machine that controls all of Charlottesville politics. The fact is that there are about 5 very different subgroups that fight like cats every time about who the nominee(s) will be. This year there were two very different races going on, and the “Democratic Party Machine” was badly split on both of them. Just like it was badly split 2 years ago when James Brown was nominated for Sheriff, and when Kristen Szakos beat Julian Taliaferro for the nomination for Council.

    In reading blogs, I have seen the blog posters detect the following conspiracies:

    1. From “Party insiders” like Meredith Richards and David Toscano to elect pro-Meadowcreek Parkway, pro-water plan candidates like Kathy Galvin, Satyendra Huja and Paul Beyer;
    2. From “Party insiders” like Mayor Dave Norris and former Mayors Nancy O’Brien and Francis Fife to elect anti-Meadowcreek Parkway and anti-water plan candidates like Dede Smith, Brevy Cannon, and Colette Blount;
    3. From unspecified “Party insiders” to defeat the only gay candidate (James Halfaday);
    4. From “Party insiders” like Jim Nix and Tom Vandever to nominate an “acceptable” African-American candidate who would “toe the line” and do as she was told and support the Meadowcreek Parkway and the water plan;
    5. From the previously mentioned “Party insiders”, having failed to find a suitably docile and compliant African-American candidate, to defeat Colette Blount, the only African-American candidate who was willing to run, because she was too uppity and didn’t “toe the line”.

    I’m probably leaving out a few — sometimes it gets hard to keep the conspiracies straight. (In case anyone is wondering, I split my ticket — I voted for members of a couple of the conspiracies, folks on both sides of the Meadowcreek Parkway/water plan issues.)

    In the Clerk’s race, I have learned from reading the blogs that:

    1. There was a conspiracy among the lawyers to nominate anyone other than Paul Garrett because the lawyers were unhappy with Paul for various professional reasons;
    2. There was a different conspiracy among (unspecified) Party leaders who wanted Paul on the ticket to keep the African-American voters happy;
    3. There was a third conspiracy by Party leaders (presumably not the same ones in Conspiracy #2) to push Paul off the ticket because the lawyers who were the “Party insiders” (Conspiracy #1) wanted to get rid of him;
    4. That Party leaders (unspecified) encouraged Pam to run against Paul, and then dropped her like a hot potato when Llezelle got into the race.

    This is only a partial list.

    Pam notes that at the one forum with all of the candidates — the one that I moderated — the forum was held about a week after the Daily Progress had published an article on the annual audits of the local Clerks of Courts’ offices. Yes, I did ask the first question about those allegations. The article had noted some small deficiencies in Paul Garrett’s Clerk’s office, and some more significant problems in the management of the Albemarle County Clerk’s office. That story was the proverbial “elephant in the room.” I asked that question first because it was the topic that everyone wanted to hear about, and Pam and Paul should both have been ready to answer that one. I actually thought they both answered that question well.

    There were also some hostile questions directed at Llezelle. She said later that she was glad that those questions had come, because she wanted to be talking about things that the people wanted to hear about.

    As for the comment that this nomination was rigged, I assume that Henry must be talking about some dissatisfaction with the Council process; Llezelle won with over 60% of the vote on the first counting of the ballots. She didn’t get that large a margin by “rigging” the vote.

    As for the Council nomination, this was the least-rigged nomination process I have ever been a part of, and I have been a part of a lot of them in the last 30 years. If it had been truly rigged, Paul Beyer would have beaten Dede Smith, and on the first ballot. If if had been truly rigged, we would not have had three very different Council candidates — Dede Smith, Paul Beyer and Colette Blount — with very similar vote totals.

    And from what I could see, there was nothing dirty about this nomination process. Politics is not always absolutely polite. People change their minds. You thought you had support, and then it vanishes a month later. People sometimes say nasty, hurtful, incorrect things about you. Welcome to the real world.

    One thing of which I am certain — Pam’s allegation that Democratic Party leaders “already had their candidate waiting in the wings” to run against Paul is not true. My understanding is that Llezelle had thought she would run, and then had changed her mind and decided not to run because of concerns with her mother’s health, and then changed her mind again when her mother told her, “Don’t forego your plans on my account.”

    Party leaders — as noted before, not a monolithic group — had no preferred candidate. So — I am sorry that Pam felt that she had been deceived. She should not have been. If she thought that she was getting endorsed by “Party insiders” and she wasn’t, then she was probably assuming support from people having said nice things to her, rather than coming out and directly getting a commitment of support.

    I have no doubt that Llezelle Dugger will be a good Clerk of Court. She has been a good lawyer, she has been a good School Board member. She knows the law and she knows court clerk’s offices. She will bring the Clerk’s office into the 21st Century.

  7. So – here we go again. I just read Mrs. Melampy’s letter and I can’t imagine what it would be like to try and fight this “inner circle” group of so called politicians. For an individual who is just trying to obtain a job that they have been doing for years and then to have to deal with politics must be very stressful. I also read all the comments. The last comment from Lloyd Snook only proves exactly what Joan had said in her comment. Lawyers stick together. I want to also say that I do know both individuals who are running for Clerk of Court. I have know Pam for quite some time and Llzelle for the past 5 years. I often visit both county and city clerk’s offices because of my job. There are so many things that go on in the clerks office. Just because I visit it often in no way makes me capable of going in one day and just taking over. The citizens of the city of Charlottesville need to take a stand in this years November Election. Let your voice be heard. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent you need to get out and Vote for Mrs. Melampy. She is more qualified than Mrs. Dugger hands down. If I needed an attorney I might seek counsel through Mrs. Dugger but for a Clerk I believe we all know that Mrs. Melampy would be best suited for the position. I visit a court room often; that doesn’t mean that I could go in one day and be the Judge. So, Mr. Snook says that Mrs. Dugger knows court clerks offices; that doesn’t mean that she can walk in and just know the daily tasks that the Clerk is responsible for. Mrs. Dugger will require training through the expense of someone. Will it be you??? I hope everyone gets out this year and takes control of the city politics.
    Mr. Wiley – go back to your Rangerhood. I sure wouldn’t want someone like you though teaching my son scouts. A scout sets good examples and you are a vicious individual.

  8. I fully agree with Mark in saying that all Lloyd and Ron did was completely prove that Pam’s letter was not made up to make herself look better and like Joan I went back and did research on these blogs that Ron Wiley put up about Pam and found for myself how awful they were. I don’t understand why he would say someone that could maintain a budget is a liar or a bad candidate. And I’m sure that if Mrs. Melampy were “forging campaign funds” then she would be too tight with her purse to offer up 10% of her yearly salary back to the community.

  9. She certainly has my vote. She’s the only one with experience in Clerking that’s running. It is amazing that some people will vote for anything that the Democratic Party throws up. Party above Country, I guess.

  10. I have a question. Why is this job a political position? It is a clerk job………a door keeper, pushing paper and knowing your way around a file cabinet, at best!

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