Albemarle County Abandoning Thomas Jefferson Holiday

Following closely in the footsteps of neighboring Charlottesville, Albemarle County Executive, Jeff Richardson, has advised elimination of his county’s Thomas Jefferson holiday observance.

Charlottesville Mayor, Nikuyah Walker, without explanation recently proposed a deprecation for her city’s Jefferson Holiday. Walker’s disapprobation was heartily endorsed by embattled City Councilor Wes Bellamy, who in responding to Walker’s remarks referred to Jefferson as a slave owner and a rapist.

Walker’s proposal will be formally addressed—and almost certainly approved—at a future City Council meeting.

Meanwhile, Richardson, apparently fearful of Charlottesville-style cultural Marxists invading his space, has taken a proactive step to “protect” the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors from having to defend Jefferson.

While Charlottesville’s officials were forthright in their disdain for Mr. Jefferson, Richardson and his team crafted a disingenuous, weaselly, and absurd narrative, citing “customer service” and the County’s “Pillars of High Performance” program as primary drivers.

From Albemarle County’s June 19 Board of Supervisors Agenda:

Customer Service Issue

Albemarle County’s Pillars of High Performance (the Pillars) provides the organizational standard for excellence in local government operations (Attachment A). The Public Service Covenant, illustrated within the Pillars as a Core Value, speaks to commitment to customer service as a component of local government’s service to the public. Observation of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday as an official holiday does not best enable staff to provide exemplary customer service.

Staff recognizes that the lack of commonality with the community in closing on April 13th can create confusion for the public and agency partners. In addition to the day not being a widely recognized holiday, there is a lack of consistency-the actual day of the week changes every year. It is not uncommon for several individuals to come to the County office building on this holiday looking for service only to be turned away. This is particularly sensitive given the timing of the holiday and its proximity to the tax deadline (April 15th).

Proposed Solution

To provide excellence in public service by ensuring accessibility to the public on standard work days while also ensuring employees receive a similar number of holidays throughout the year staff is proposing that a floating holiday be created in place of the Thomas Jefferson Birthday holiday.

The floating holiday would be granted January 1, 2020 and would have to be used by June 30, 2020. Providing a floating holiday in place of the Birthday holiday will allow for:

  • employees to have a choice regarding what day to take
  • honoring needs for diverse employees
  • work-life balance

While Richardson’s “solution” to the County’s “Jefferson problem” may appear more reasonable than Charlottesville’s double-barreled assault, his approach is anything but honorable.

Surrendering before the first shot is fired represents cowardice, not bravery. The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors would do well to reject the Executive’s spineless suggestion and confront the matter head-on.

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