Read Roy Scherer’s advice to the mayor-elect below. Mayor-elect Dwight Jones has trotted out his transition team. In print, the names look impressive. That’s a good start. Rev. Jones has eight weeks to be ready to hit the ground running. With the economy so squirrelly/paranoid, together with the way jobs are evaporating in this metro area, […]
Read Roy Scherer’s advice to the mayor-elect below.
Mayor-elect Dwight Jones has trotted out his transition team. In print, the names look impressive. That’s a good start. Rev. Jones has eight weeks to be ready to hit the ground running. With the economy so squirrelly/paranoid, together with the way jobs are evaporating in this metro area, he may have to adjust priorities that were set way back in the spring, when the mayoral campaign began.
Jones is surely hearing from experts and semi-experts about what those priorities ought to be. About what to do first. About you-name-it.
My advice to him is to move in his first week on the job to fix something that can be fixed by simply implementing a new policy, and without having to spend a lot of money. More sunlight into how our money is being gathered and spent, as some are calling for — see Roop and Harrison below — may be a good example.
Here’s my thought on a specific smart thing to do: Run a survey that would get the opinions of Braves season-ticket holders and regular fans about a baseball field in Shockoe Bottom. Their feelings ought to count in the real world beyond blue sky projections. Find out how many of them now believe that if a minor league team’s home games were being played in a Shockoe Bottom stadium, they would go to: more games; roughly the same amount of games; fewer games; no games.
Don’t you think the results of such a survey would help you to weigh whether the developer’s nearly-a-billion-dollar plan makes sense, money-wise?
No doubt, I could go on. Instead, I’m going to let others with perhaps more well-informed opinions about local politics do it for me. Yesterday, I sent out an email to some smart cookies to get their thoughts on the best advice for the mayor-elect. So far, what you see below is what has come back. As more answers come in, I’ll update this post. And, of course, readers are welcome to play along with their own advice/comments.
What’s your advice to Mayor-elect Dwight C. Jones?
Roy Scherer (Libertarian spokesperson, political activist, lobbyist, man-about-town and pinball machine repairman):
You didn’t win by all that much, so please don’t think that you — “have a mandate.”
You did a pretty good job while you were in the General Assembly, so please try to continue those practices.
It’s a whole city, with not only thousands of people who voted against you, but more thousands whom you’ve never met. Try to remember that you’re serving each and every one of them equally.
It’s a big job. Doug Wilder didn’t do nearly as well at it as we had hoped, and you have less executive experience than he did. Try to learn from his mistakes. Specifically, remember that you really need to work WITH City Council, not AGAINST them. It ain’t about you; it’s about Richmond.
Don Harrison (Publisher of Save Richmond):
My advice for Mayor Jones is to do what he pledged to do during the election — implement the Downtown Plan (not some developer-led, watered-down version of it), install transparency at CenterStage and other public-private partnerships and make the building of new schools a priority. Could we ask for anything more basic than for our new Mayor-elect to do what he said he would do on the campaign trail?
Beyond that, he should steal several of the great ideas that Paul Goldman suggested during his campaign — like the Unity Council. What a great, common-sense idea! What a way to signal “change” in Richmond – to start including a diverse cross-section of voices in the conversation about where this city should go.
And on that note, Mayor Jones should NOT be afraid to buck the city council when they are wrong. It’s one thing to “work together,” quite another thing to sign on to everything the councilmembers want (and vice versa). No, we don’t need more events like “Fiasco Friday” but honest debate and a sense of checks and balances are what is required.
I would also suggest to him that these committees that are convened to serve the city’s interests (like the one currently picking our Superintendent of Schools or the one that OK’d CenterStage without public input) should have an inclusive public process, should widely advertised their meetings, and should (in the future) include those with a real stake in what is being discussed.
The fact that no parents or teachers are on that Superintendent search committee, and no artists or arts professionals were a part of the performing arts committee meeting, does not instill even the slightest confidence that all voices are being heard. Richmond should not be the exclusive erector set of the folks at the Commonwealth Club anymore.
We have a real problem in this community — we seem to think all of our problems can be solved from the top down by corporate leaders who, frankly, have been somewhat incompetent and tone deaf in their vision and their leadership. To borrow one national politician’s winning slogan, it is time for a “change” and that is what Jones’ supporters voted for on Tuesday. They didn’t vote for the business community to keep its exclusive grip on civic matters, quite the contrary. (more…)