Overall participation: 86%
List five initiatives that you believe are more important than finding a new baseball team for the City of Richmond.
1. Creating a World-Class Education System.
To build a better Richmond we must create an educational system that is worthy of our children; one in which cities across the nation look to as a model to emulate. We must have a school system that has no fear of creativity and new paradigms. We can spare nothing to ensure that our children have the tools they need to compete in the global economy. That means that our city’s schools must strive to not only excel in test scores but also excel in building character and good citizenship. We need to look specifically at our middle schools and work to make them models of innovation and creativity. We also need to focus on lowering Richmond’s exceptionally high truancy and dropout rates.
2. Restoring fiscal accountability to city government.
Our government has become too expensive and there is too much waste in City Hall. The City Auditor’s report shows waste is occurring in all departments. As Mayor, I will make the necessary changes listed in the auditor’s report and end the era of security entourages for the Mayor, excessive administrative spending in City Hall and misuse of the city’s vehicle fleet. If we have an efficient government we have a government that delivers city services effectively without raising taxes.
3. Keeping our neighborhoods safe.
Along with education, the most common issue I hear from citizens is keeping our neighborhoods safe. Over the past several months I have been going door-to-door talking with citizens, and throughout the city there are pockets of neighborhoods where every home has a security door and a serious concern about crime. We need to continue our efforts and work with citizens and our civic associations to promote community policing. A good relationship with the community and law enforcement leads to a safer community.
4. Investing in our neighborhoods.
Richmond has done a good job of promoting and developing Main Street, but we need a Mayor who will also focus on Hull Street, 26th Street, Brookland Park Boulevard, etc. What makes Richmond one of the best cities in America is its neighborhoods and we need to encourage the revitalization our neighborhoods. Over the past several years, I have worked to help revive Hull Street and provide work force housing in the Blackwell community. We need to help those interested in investing in our neighborhoods and provide them with the resources they need to succeed.
5. Providing a safety-net for that protects the least among us.
Our city has witnessed phenomenal growth and success, but there have been members of our population excluded from this resurgence. As mayor, I will launch a top to bottom review of what our city government is doing to assist the less fortunate, particularly the working poor. Working together with non-profits in the region and with our institutions of higher education, we can create programs that will protect their homes, their neighborhoods, and most important their livelihood.
What are two qualities that people who know you well might say make you suited for the office you seek?
I believe most people would say that I am a collaborative leader who can bring people together and I have the most experience, both as a legislator for Richmond and in the community, of all the candidates in this race.
For the last several years I have served as the Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. In that role I have worked with Governors and members of both the House and Senator from both parties to push forward the goals and agenda of the Legislative Black Caucus. I worked with Governor Mark Warner to pass historic budget reforms that cut the food tax and expelled many seniors from the tax rolls. I worked with Governor Kaine to make new investments in Pre-Kindergarten. This past session, the Legislative Black Caucus led the effort, along with several organizations to reform Payday Lending in Virginia.
I have also worked in the community helping to build revitalize Hull Street. When everyone else had written Blackwell off as a lost community, we stayed on invested in the neighborhood. Our work on Hull Street helped change one of the most violent neighborhoods in all of Virginia. Our community development group built workforce housing, commercial property and a senior center right on Hull Street. Since we began our efforts, Blackwell has become a safer neighborhood and more people are beginning to live and work on Hull Street again.
What are your thoughts on the relationship between the current mayor and city council? Outline a model for how you’d like to see the mayor and city council work together in the future.
For too long City Hall has been devoid of the leadership needed to bring people together and move Richmond forward. It is saddening to see our city government act in a way in which personal conflicts and political maneuvering come before the good of the citizens. As Mayor, I will end the bickering and acrimony in City Hall and make sure city government focuses on doing what’s right for the citizens of Richmond.
As chair of the Legislative Black Caucus I have worked with Governors, both Democrats and Republicans, and members of both parties in the General Assembly to get things done. As Mayor I will put the interests of Richmonders ahead of all else.
I have always believed that when you want respect you have to give respect. In order for the Mayor to be respected they need to respect every other elected official, whether they are City Council or School Board members.
I will hire and recruit the most qualified people available to serve in my administration and will focus on creating a work atmosphere in which city workers are respected and thanked for the work they do for their city. Only when we have a consistent, qualified and encouraged city government staff will City Council, the School Board and our surrounding counties, want to work with us to get things done.
If you support the proposed Downtown Master Plan and if you are elected, what specifically will you do to ensure the plan is implemented? If you oppose the proposed Downtown Master Plan and if you are elected, what steps will you take to correct, change, or modify the plan?
I support the ideas and vision of the Downtown Master Plan. This process has been a testament to the work that can be done in Richmond when we have an open and public process that involves all of our neighborhoods and citizens in the future of our City.
In order to utilize this planning tool to the best of our ability, we first need to ensure that council adopts the plan. Then we will need to have the city’s Public Works and Public Utilities department identify ways to incorporate the provisions of the plan into the overall Capital Improvement Plan. Finally, and most importantly, we need to make sure we have the funding to see this plan implement. In these tough economic times we have to make sure the city is not over extending it resources. As Mayor I will provide a vision for building a better Richmond which includes implementing recommendation for the Master plan into.
What do you consider to be Richmond’s greatest asset? What do you consider to be its greatest liability?
I believe Richmond’s greatest assets are our neighborhoods. They are what make Richmond unique to all of Virginia and are the reason people want to move to the City.
I believe our greatest current liability is the lack of leadership needed to deal with the economic difficulties Richmond is facing. Richmond needs a leader who is willing to make the tough decisions and bring people together to get our fiscal house in order.
If elected, how will you promote the use of public transportation by Richmond residents? What improvements would you make to the current system in order to do so?
The city, state, and nation are facing a severe economic crisis, and yet during elections we typically hear candidates promoting projects and ideas that will require additional financial support. What are some initiatives you think Richmond is going to have to put on the back burner as we weather these challenging times? Please explain why.
The state has a $2.5 billion deficit that will surely trickle down to Richmond. Our budget requires cuts that need to be made with a scalpel and not a hatchet. We will have to implement the $30 million recommendations made by the auditor to cut inefficiencies in our government. We may also have to freeze discretionary spending and leave positions vacant. And any new projects or initiatives will depend on available financing. Furthermore, we need to cut out the waste in the Mayor’s office including the security detail and excessive administrative staff.