Nancy O’Brien recalls time as Charlottesville’s first female mayor

Nancy O’Brien became the first woman to serve as mayor of Charlottesville in 1976, having moved to the area in the late 1960’s. On this installment of WINA’s Charlottesville–Right Now, she tells the story of how she got involved in local politics. One reason was to oppose a new road plan that consisted of the Meadow Creek Parkway as well as something called the Greenbrier Parkway.

Thirty-two years later, she’s still opposed to the former, and happy the latter never got built. O’Brien talks about the creation of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, the decline of a sense of the public good, and the night she got elected to City Council. Like former Mayor David Brown, O’Brien was selected to lead Council beginning with her first term.

Though she was not on Council when the decision was made to create the downtown mall, one of her first official duties was to receive the last brick. O’Brien and Coy talk about the massive controversy that the mall caused, and how the potential loss of tax revenue was averted. In many ways, O’Brien says many of the same themes are still in place.