From the candidates: week 5

Richmond’s greatest asset and liability

Our question for this week:
What do you consider to be Richmond’s greatest asset? What do you consider to be its greatest liability?

See below for how the mayoral and city council candidates responded. As usual, if they didn’t get back to us, you’ll see “NO RESPONSE” underneath their names.

We were very excited about handing this one over to the candidates and warned them that our readers are exceptionally skilled at detecting BS. So have at it and leave your thoughts in the comments. Links to each district’s corresponding community blog will go up as those sites start posting these responses, so make sure to weigh in on those, too.

(Previous weeks: 1, 2, 4)

Mayoral candidates

Paul Goldman:

Richmond’s greatest asset is the people of the River City. The greatest liability is the fiscal mismanagement and utter lack of real vision on the part of the Wilder-led Administration and the Pantele-led City Council. They love to praise my “City of the Future” plan, and it’s vision: but they have proven totally incapable of implementing the key provisions of it, indeed their failure will wind-up costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

Even the City Auditor, an employee of the Council, admits that the Council has been wasting at 30 million a year  in terms of the wasteful and unnecessary spending passed by the Council, and agreed-to by the Mayor, that have been larded into the city budget. And who pays for this mismanagement? The people do.

We have the oldest schools in the state, the most expensive City Hall entourage, City Council staff, and public school bureaucracy in the state, the highest water and gas rates for those least able to pay, and I could go on.

Once again, we see why my opponents continue to offer just the same ole, same ole: The lastest example, I alone had to guts to stand-up to Mayor Wilder and say he was wrong to bypass Police Chief David McCoy for someone with far less merit; it was clear to me that the Mayor had not made his appointment based on merit, but for the same ole type of reasons that have held Richmond back for far too long.

If elected Mayor, I intend to hire Mr. McCoy as the Police Chief – assuming of course that he still wants the job – and send Wilder’s choice packing.

In a Goldman Administration, decisions will be made on merit.

But everyone of my opponents were too afraid to state the obvious: no wonder the special interests that have held this City back have given my opponents upwards of $300,000 but have not given me a penny: they know that Paul Goldman is the only independent candidate in this race with the guts to say NO to the power-brokers.

Apparently, Barack Obama, who has praised the work I did to help bring whites and blacks together to make historic change, and yours truly are the only candidates this year who understand that we need to get past the old racially-tinged politics if we are to make Richmond and America all they can be.

Robert Grey:

Richmond’s greatest asset is the wonderful people who call our city home. We have strength in our diversity and a richness in our shared culture.  We have weathered all the challenges of this nation, and survived and grown stronger from the battles that have divided us.  Time, opportunity and a shared common vision set around priorities will continue to bring us together and make Richmond an even better place to live, work, and raise a family for generations to come.

Our greatest liability is the politics of the past that keeps holding us back.  We keep doing the same things the same way and we are expecting different results.  This year we have to make a change – change the way we govern, change the style and tone of leadership at city hall, change the way we think about education, economic development for our city, and everything else that imp acts our quality of life here.  Richmond is a great city with great people, and it’s time our local government lives up to that standard.

Dwight Jones:

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.

Bill Pantele:

Lawrence Williams:

City council candidates

District 1

Bruce Tyler (incumbent):

District 2

Tyron Bey:

There are so many great assets.  History, people, location, GRTC, and many others.  I would say that one of the best (but not necessarily the greatest) would be our higher education community.

Virginia Union can boast about being the institution which graduated the First Black Mayor of Richmond, Governor of Virginia, and Admiral in the Navy.  No other school in the nation has that distinction.  Virginia Union, along with Virginia State, implements the regions Upward Bound program.  This program tutors and mentors high school students so that they may become strong candidates for admission to college.  If it were not for Union, Richmond may not be here as we know it today.
Reynolds also works in tandum with our School System to help improve the performance of our middle school students with the New Horizons program.

MCV has been recognized nationally for its great trauma center.

UofR Law School is ranked in the top 100 of our Nations Best Law Schools by US News and World Reports.

VCU is celebrating 40 years as an institution.

Our 2 and 4 year institutions are doing great things and we need to continue to show our support.

The greatest liability is the Region’s unwillingness, until now, to work together.   As we face the economic times that we are in, we must not continue to find ways to separate and divide us.  I believe that now is the time for us to work together to help insure our economic viability as a region.  This is done with regional partnerships with thematic schools, regional transportation, and business community support with education.

Patrick J. Kjellberg:

Charles Samuels:

Richmond’s greatest asset is its history.  It is a draw to tourists, corporations and families moving to our area.  A big factor that differentiates Richmond from surrounding counties is the historic neighborhoods within the City’s boundaries, including Jackson Ward – once known as the Harlem of the South.  I believe Richmond’s history is what differentiates it from any other U.S. destination.

Richmond’s greatest liability is its inability to move past its history to build its future.  The Crupi report clearly illustrates the problem and the potential for a bright future if we can overcome the problem.  The City, and arguably the region, needs an agreed upon set of strategic goals and the strength to move forward to achieve them.

Head over to Fan District Hub to discuss these responses from the candidates for District 2.

District 3

Jonathan Davis:

Chris Hilbert (incumbent):

I believe that our greatest asset in Richmond is engaged people.  Our city has faced trouble over the years such crime, declining neighborhoods, divisions along racial and economic lines, poverty, and underperforming schools.  While good decisions by policymakers can help, and have helped, in all these areas, real progress has come about largely because of the hard work of individuals who are engaged in our community.

By engagement, I’m talking about the teacher who puts in extra time to make a change in the life of a student.  I see volunteers who mentor at-risk children, providing strong positive role models.  I see activists in neighborhood associations who spend countless hours working to make our neighborhoods more attractive, stronger, and safer.  Citizens like Kim Lavach, who is wife and a mother of two young girls who participates in the PTA and her civic association, working to improve the lighting along Chamberlayne Av. or like Thomas James, who served on the Board of Neighborhood Housing Services for a number of years helping to revitalize the neighborhoods of Battery Park and Barton Heights.   People like Martha Rollins, who founded Boaz and Ruth, make our community stronger and safer by providing job training to formerly incarcerated men and women, offering a future of employment and hope rather than a future of crime and despair.   Engaged volunteers at churches work to provide meals and shelter to our most needy citizens.  We are blessed with people like Gaither Beard, who has volunteered countless hours over the years coaching sports, creating positive alternatives for our youth.

It is engaged people like these examples that provide the strength and fabric of our community.  Government can do more – and must do more – for our citizens, but the bedrock of our city is the hard work of engaged people who are doing the right thing in our community.

The flip side of our engaged citizens is the apathy that unfortunately exists in many quarters.  In Richmond, all of us, whether we want to to admit it or not, will move forward – or backwards – together.  The City of Richmond is the core and strength of our region.  All parts of our city and communities within our city as being interrelated.   Apathy about our city stands in the way of reaching our potential as a region.  Our elected officials often haven’t done enough to communicate with and engage the citizens.  If our citizens don’t feel that they have a voice in city government, they have much less incentive to be involved.  As a member of City Council, I’ve attempted to bridge this gap in several ways, including holding monthly district town hall meetings to ask for regular significant input and involvement from citizens.   More must be done and I see it as important to long-term goal to increase regional cooperation and increase the belief among our suburban neighbors that all of Richmond matters.

It hurts our city when many of the residents of the Richmond area essentially turn their backs, coming into the city just for work while ignoring the challenges that we must all face together.   Crime anywhere in our city hurts our whole region.  Problems in our schools limit our future potential.  When people are apathetic about a problem because it is in a different part of town or doesn’t seem to affect their family, they are ignoring the fact that we are all one community.

I believe that Richmond is moving in the right direction.  The biggest part of our progress comes from the engagement of our citizens and their willingness to work to move our city forward.  If this culture of engagement can be spread to replace the apathy that exists in too many areas, our city with thrive and prosper.

District 4

Kathy Graziano (incumbent):

District 5

Mark Brandon:

Assets : Its location on the James, it’s diverse neighborhoods and its history.
Liability : Its history

Marty Jewell (incumbent):

Lee Shewmake:

Richmond’s greatest assets are history, architecture and neighborhoods. The three are so often interconnected and serve to define Richmond as unique in the tri cities area.

Richmond’s greatest liability is the infrastructure, which is very old and was severely neglected for so many decades.  Improvements/replacements of these will be huge undertakings and the school structures are but one category.

Discuss responses from the District 5 candidates at Oregon Hill.

District 6

Ellen Robertson (incumbent):

District 7

Clarence Kenney:

Delores McQuinn (incumbent):

District 8

C. Allen Barrett:

Richmond’s greatest asset is the central and pivotal role that the city and region played in the American Civil War.  Unfortunately, the city’s civil war history and current artifacts are not appropriately marketed to a sufficientiy diverse group of people.  Many motorists traveling north and south pass on through Richmond without the slightest inkling of the important historical sites, documents, and paraphernalia that are in the area.

Richmond’s greatest liability is the lingering racism that was germinated during slavery and cultivated again by Redemption, segregation, and massive resistance.  Because of this incipient racism, regionalism and common heritage of Richmonders are constantly crippled.

Eric W. Hunter, Sr.:

Reva Trammell (incumbent):

District 9

Doug Conners (incumbent):

Eugene Mason, Jr.:

Adrian Preston:

Let the candidates know what you think about their insights on this one. And as always, if you have questions you’d like to see our candidates answer, email them to or leave them in the comments.

(A note to the candidates: All questions are being sent to the email addresses listed on the Virginia State Board of Elections website. If you would prefer we communicate with you through a different email address, please let us know.)

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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