District 3 candidate
Overall participation: 57%
List five initiatives that you believe are more important than finding a new baseball team for the City of Richmond.
1. Building a Strong, First Class School System.
Good schools are at the heart of a healthy city. As an RPS parent and a member of two PTA’s, I know how frustrated and concerned many parents are about the future of Richmond’s public schools. Our schools must be held to a higher standard. The district needs to=2 0put more emphasis on reading in the elementary schools through programs=2 0such as the Accelerated Reader Program. We need to attract and retain the best and most committed teachers and, to accomplish that, we need to make sure that salaries are competitive for the region. I will make sure that the City of the Future plan is implemented and that new schools are built and old ones are modernized. We must make certain all of our schools are accessible for all children, that is, ADA compliant. I want to see Richmond schools setting the standard for education and I will work with both the School Board and the mayor’s office to ensure our schools are top-notch. We need to explore partnerships in the private sector with the business community, faith community, colleges, and neighborhoods.
2. Reducing High Taxes and High City Spending
In these precarious economic times, Richmonders need to keep their hard-earned dollars in their pockets, not in taxes to the City. We need to deliver services in the most expedient, low cost manner and eliminate waste and inefficiency. Homeowners are being priced out of their homes. Let’s not pretend that a reduction in the real estate rate has not been more than overrun by the spiraling assessments. Richmond’s retirees need tax relief and ways to make sure they can remain in their homes. When I am on City Council, we will initiate a comprehensive analysis of the mayor’s office, City Council and the City administration to ensure that there is no waste at any level of government. We will also undertake a thorough review of city spending, and city services with the goal of providing tax relief and better services to our citizens. We owe them that.
3. Economic Development
Putting people to work puts money in citizens’ hands which they can then spend, augmenting the economy for all of us and providing revenue for the City. My vision is to see Richmond as the number one city for emerging economic development on the East Coast. We must aggressively recruit new business to Richmond, positioning our city as the locale for business development. City Hall needs to be actively involved in economic development, assisting all start up businesses, whether it is a Fortune 500 company or a neighborhood coffee shop. Small businesses and large, both play a role in creating jobs, producing goods and services and paying taxes to the city. Economic development along with community revitalization are imperative because they will help alleviate other problems that exist in the city. As a City Council member, I will make certain that we create and foster a business friendly environment.
4. Public Safety must establish a good support network with the new Police Chief to make sure that the progress made over the last four years continues. I will work to ensure that neighborhood policing is continued and expanded. While we have had some drop in the crime rate here in Richmond, we must be vigilant to ensure it continues to decrease. Churches, businesses, organizations, and city government can work together to create outreach and reentry programs that assist incarcerated youth, adults, and prostitutes transitioning back into society. Too often these persons reenter the community without the tools in place to help them succeed; therefore, they enter into the life of crime or convenience that is familiar to them, increasing the crime rate and putting our community at risk. We must have the tools and resources in place to reduce the recidivism rate.
5. Youth and Senior Services
We have a responsibility to meet the needs of our children and our seniors. Community centers for youth and seniors, Boys and Girls Clubs, schools that provide services to the community after school hours and during the summer months; these are the types of facilities that need to be built, renovated, expanded and researched. Centers should offer recreational facilities, job training services, tutoring, and whatever activities the surrounding community desires. It is imperative that we take care of our seniors and our children. Organizations, businesses, citizens, and government bodies can and must work together to make positive changes in the community. It simply takes vision and commitment which I will bring to City Council.
What are two qualities that people who know you well might say make you suited for the office you seek?
I pride myself in being a leader with integrity and determination who is able to reach across boundaries and unite people from all backgrounds to work together toward a common goal. For all of my adult life, I have been dedicated to working to help communities and people to live a better life and to move forward in ways that would benefit them. It has always been my passion to offer hope and promise for a brighter future for my community, whether it was in the 3rd District or other parts of this great city. I do so without compromising my belief that what we are all united through a common thread which allows us to work together reaching across racial and socio-economic boundaries to create a life that is better for all citizens.
As far back as I can remember, I have always been a leader with determination and integrity, working in different capacities in the community. It is a position that I have always been comfortable holding and it is one that that I have always readily accepted. Over the last 30 years, I have been in positions wherein people have placed their trust in my determination to move them forward on matters of importance and to offer a vision of where we should be headed. Whether setting up relief centers for families displaced as a result of Hurricane Ernesto or working with the police department, citizens, and agencies throughout the city on crime control issues, I have always been a leader determined to make a difference. As the city councilman for the 3rd district, I will offer true leadership for the community with a determination to see that the needs of the district are met and I will never compromise my integrity for the sake of personal gain.
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.
I am disappointed and dismayed at the relationship between City Council and the mayor. The citizens of the Third District have suffered because of the bickering and quarreling and my opponent, the incumbent, has been among the worst offenders. The priority must be on solving problems for the citizens of Richmond, sitting down, working together and building consensus, rather than grandstanding for the media. There will be reasonable disagreements and they must be handled in a constructive manner. The citizens of my district have been the losers because of the incumbent’s tunnel vision and his needing to win an argument in front of the cameras rather than address real problems.
The mayor and the council must have a cooperative, working relationship for the benefit of the citizens. My opponent has wasted valuable time bickering with the administration. It takes two to fight and my opponent prefers to grandstand his disagreements with City Hall rather than address neighborhood problems. As a City Councilman, I intend to focus on solving problems and creating a cooperative, working relationship with the mayor’s administration rather than expending time and energy bickering to prove a point. The city will never reach its full potential until the council and Mayor work together.
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?
What do you consider to be Richmond’s greatest asset? What do you consider to be its greatest liability?
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?
For far too long we have ignored the need to be environmentally conscious in the way we live our lives. Pollution from cars is an easily correctable issue if more people used public transportation. I would advertise on radio stations and T.V. with P.S.A.s to inform and educate our city of the benefits to the environment that mass transportation provides. Additionally the United States is dependent on foreign oil. I would advertise the benefits to society if we make an attempt to decrease our addiction to foreign oil. Unfortunately, mass transportation is limited in Richmond. As it stands now Richmond has no regional mass transportations system and our city bus system is limited due to budget cuts. This fact makes people shy away using public transportation. This is understandable and is the reason why I pledge to I will work solely on improving cost and availability to Richmonders currently and acquiring another mass transit option that allows for regional comingling.
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.