Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker announced on Wednesday that she has withdrawn from the November City Council election.
Walker posted about her decision on Facebook, citing the events of Tuesday’s City Council meeting as a catalyst in her withdrawal, but also noting that she’d considered withdrawing prior to Tuesday night's meeting.
“For those who know me, I've been struggling with this decision since March. I've wanted to stay and fight because the only people who will lose will be Black and other vulnerable people in this community. I've been fighting overt, covert, and [internalized] racism everyday of my life and it feels like it has been more prominent than oxygen during my time on council. However, I still managed to get up every day and work for pennies to make this community a better place. I fight for you all as if I earn billions. I am tired,” Walker wrote in her post.
The Charlottesville Department of Elections and Voter Registration confirmed that Walker withdrew from the race Wednesday morning.
"I'm not going to fight with a Black man who is being used by the [Democratic] party to oust me when he is a shoo-in. I'm not going to fight with another Black man as he attempts to back the white candidate who is not a shoo-in … ,” Walker wrote. She seemed to be referring to Democratic City Council Candidates Juandiego Wade and Brian Pinkston.
Walker cited the behavior of her fellow councilors during a discussion about the firing of Police Chief RaShall Brackney during the previous night’s City Council meeting as the reason she decided to withdraw now.
“The racism that was on display last night at the council meeting and during our closed session was the final straw. Michael [Payne] couldn't bring himself to defend a Black [woman]. Sena [Magill], blindly following whiteness as she has done since January 1, 2020. Heather [Hill] and Lloyd [Snook] have been consistent advocates of white is right, white power and the power of whiteness,” Walker wrote.
Walker is the only Black member of the City Council and the only independent. The four other members are Democrats.
She also addressed City Manager Chip Boyles’ involvement in firing Brackney and said she wants to see the city move away from the city manager form of government.
“I am so disappointed in Chip [Boyles] and I will address him later. Another white man, who I cared about, lied on me [sic]. It will not happen again,” she wrote. “No matter how outraged the community gets about the events that continue to transpire, unless you are able to elect more than one person to council who is elected on an anti-racist platform, they will not survive. This form of government needs to change. The city manager has too much power to not be elected by the voters. Even if it's a bunch [of voters] who don't believe in an anti-racist, equity-driven platform.”
Walker specifically addressed Black residents of Charlottesville in her post.
“Dear Black People: I feel like I've failed you. I know your [struggles] and I know what you face everyday in this community. I am sorry. Every time an image of a little Black girl pops into my head, I fall apart. I hope that at some point I can convince her that I'm not being a coward. I hope I've given her some tools to survive in this callous world.”
“Thank you for allowing me to serve you,” Walker wrote. “Someone told me yesterday that only cowards quit, so I didn't give … any notice today because I'm losing myself right now. I need to choose me.”
Walker could not be reached for comment by press time.
When Walker confirmed in May that she was running for re-election, she said during a Facebook Live that she had considered not running again because of attacks and vitriol she’s received from the public.
“One Black person on council is not enough,” Walker said. “We have to continue to fight so much harder than anyone else for our lives to be considered important."
“Even though I’ve always been kind of ready to battle with people, it’s been a challenge to be under attack all the time,” she said. “My body is telling me that you all will destroy me … But then there’s a flipside to that … all the people who say … ‘I’m a little bit more comfortable about this world because I get to watch you [as mayor].’”