Mayoral forum, the Issues, part one

If you actually wanted to learn something from the Mayoral Forum and either could not attend or find our “commentary” distasteful hopefully this will be of use. I’ve taken John’s excellent mostly factual summaries and removed them from the excessively verbose “liveblog” and pasted them here. Hopefully would-be voters who are undecided will find this […]

If you actually wanted to learn something from the Mayoral Forum and either could not attend or find our “commentary” distasteful hopefully this will be of use. I’ve taken John’s excellent mostly factual summaries and removed them from the excessively verbose “liveblog” and pasted them here. Hopefully would-be voters who are undecided will find this useful!


Goldman’s opening statement takeaways:

Shot about appointed mayors. “Prior to that, when they had an appointed mayor, nobody wanted your opinion.”

Yay Master Plan, Goldman says.

I woke up and there is a baseball stadium downtown, he says.

No Echo Harbor.

Says Parks and Rec Master Plan matters more to the city’s neighborhoods.

Grey’s opening statement takeaways:

“It is time for the city to deliver on its promise to deliver efficient services to its citizens.”

Cut waste. End politics as usual. A leader who will bring real results.

Classroom and public transportation investment.

Jones’ opening statement takeaways:

“We are on the verge of turning the page”

World-class education. Transportation. Public safety.

“We can reduce the decible of acrimony.”

“I support the Master Plan. I support its thrust, its goals… the river belongs to the people of Richmond,” Jones says.

Pantele’s opening statement takeaways:

Downtown should be 24/7 — a message to all of you who try to get sleep at night. Stick around.

“Feet on the street. That should be the future of downtown Richmond,” he says.

No condos when I started on Council, he says.

Lots of great development already — “But we can’t be complacent.”

Push downtown housing. Push tourism. Make downtown an entertainment center. Public access to the river. A downtown trolley.

Williams’ opening statement takeaways:

Make Richmond livable.

“I was there,” he says of his tenure on the Downtown Plan commission/group.

Richmond should be about “great style and great content.” Jason Roop just stood up and applauded.

Three new communities built around three new elementary schools.

I’m the only one who has a plan “to get from A to Z”

Create equity in our neighborhoods. Richmond needs a good urban mayor.

Jimmy Barrett of WRVA kicks it off: “As mayor what would you do to make sure these absentee landlords are responsible for their buildings?” (He cites 1700 abandoned buildings in Richmond)

Goldman: Buy these houses. City makes the down payment. Attract young teachers by paying the down payment for them, or for police. “We need to make a commitment, and its a community commitment, that we’re no longer going to let these buildings run down.”

Grey: Strict code enforcement = part of the efficiency he’ll bring. “We’ve started down that path … and we need to acknowledge that.” “Every neighborhood deserves our attention.”

Jones: During his door-to-door canvassing in Northside, he asked what problem residents wanted to him to fix — “Look across the street, they said.” The city needs to lobby the General Assembly (go with what you know) for spot blight legislation.

Pantele: We think too small about creative solutions. Work with the non-profit community organizations to make those houses available for single-family, affordable homeownership. Cites displacement from public housing, which he opposes.

Williams: Been there, done that. You need someone who understands these issues. Work with owners. Increase inspectors. Deal with the elderly and be sensitive to their needs.

Aaron Gilchrist is next, asking about VCU expansion. “How would you support further growth of VCU downtown?” (Or has downtown seen enough?)

Grey: Encourage VCU to develop on property it owns. Make sure what VCU does is compatible with neighborhoods. (Does anyone know what emoticon I should use for “He’s going on and on and one?”)

Jones: No one can deny that VCU has been a wonderful neighbor (unless you live in Oregon Hill, maybe Carver). Concerned about West Hospital, sale of city property to VCU. Need to support VCU but there are limits. Satellite campuses may be in VCU’s future.

Pantele: VCU and City of Richmond “have fortunes that overlap.” (Emphasis on the word “fortune”) Look at Broad Street today versus five years ago. We need VCU to continue to grow. There are some terrible impacts from parking and housing shortages. “We need a partnership agreement” from VCU, he says.

Williams: “We’ve got vinyl siding on Broad Street?” “Some people said Trani was the mayor,” he said, and then trailed off. No punch line. Work closer with VCU. They have to deal with the homeless.

Goldman: VCU and Richmond have been joined at the hip. “We shouldn’t have let the mayor teach at VCU,” he says to laughter. Trani can “teach Donald Trump a thing or two,” he adds. He means that in a good way.

Slipek throws the hardball (unless you’re Robert Grey): “When was the last time you took GRTC” before you were running for mayor?

Jones: Honesty! “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been on GRTC.” (Did I mention I’m in the General Assembly?)

Pantele: “I don’t remember the exact date.” Talks about routing system, not being smart enough to figure out, taking two hours to get home — “That is the problem with GRTC.” The 21st century and a trolley system will fix that.

Williams: “I live in Church Hill … and two or three days a week, I’ll take the bus.” GRTC is best-run bus company in America. He just punched Pantele on the shoulder. Jokingly.

Goldman: (I totally got distracted by technical issues. Me, not Goldman.)

Grey: Rode the bus for five weeks. Slipek interrupts to say the question was “Before you were running for mayor…” Grey says he’s getting to it.

Jimmy Barrett asked something about a ballpark.

Pantele: Draws the line at Double A baseball. Wants the Boulevard to remain a “sports and entertainment corridor.” Hasn’t seen a feasible plan for other sites. Put it on the Boulevard. “Let’s get on with it,” he says.

Williams: “Here we go again.” He’s running partly to keep the focus on other, apparently more important, issues. Also calls for baseball on the Diamond.

Goldman: “The downtown baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom is not going to happen .. it’s over with.” The Boulevard is the place. “We don’t even know if it’s an A or a Double A or a Triple Z.” Build new schools. I won’t turn my back on the children, he says.

Grey: It’s going to take private investment.

Slipek goes for the throat with a Gilpin Court question: “How do you see a paradigm unfolding for the unfolding discussion for the redistribution of the residents of the Gilpin Court community?”

Goldman: It’s going to be a real test for our community. And now I’m going to avoid the question entirely by talking about my Shadow Council. Back to point: “When you start displacing people … what could be a more moral issue, what could be a more important issue?”

Grey: “Richmond has a very high concentration of public housing … we owe it to the citizens in public housing every opportunity to be successful.” Let’s think about this, he says. It takes people willing to see a neighborhood be created. “I believe we can really advance the development of other homes in Highland Park,” he says in reference to the demolition of Dove Court in that area. He’s got some passion in his voice here.

Jones: The whole model “was a failed experiment of the 50s.” Immoral, unacceptable. “We have got to decentralize poverty.”

Pantele: We play small ball. “What if we really sat down and started thinking bigger?” What if we took the city owned land around Gilpin Court and do better planning to rebuild their community.

Williams: Wants to “create something beyond belief.” But hasn’t quite told us what that would be. New homes.

My brain just stopped working again. Audience question about where to put funds potentially saved from the recent audit.

Jones: Wall Street and Virginia’s budget woes makes me a huge pessimist. If we can “keep the lights on” than we can use the funds for schools and “the Master Plan, which I thought we were going to talk about tonight.” Dig!

Missed Pantele and Williams on account of technical distractions.

Except that Williams shares Jones’ sense of doom.

Goldman: Did I mention my master’s degree in public administration? Not to voters: I get it. I was the finance go-to guy for Wilder (the good one, from the past) and for Mark Warner.

Grey: He laughs. Then speaks. “I think that the mayor and the City Council have to sit down” and budget against what the citizens want.

Selective listening closing comments:

Williams: Technical. Livable city. Work with the lady. Riverboat politics.

Pantele: Celebrate! Let’s go. Dare to be big. Trolley. Downtown. Downtown. Downtown.

Jones: Nice time lady. Dance with both parties. I have done that. Remember the Alamo.

Grey: Attention. Richmond is ready. Operating. More taxes. Look.

Goldman: We thing. Modernized. I. I. I. I. Veto. Mess.

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

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