Lee Shewmake

District 5 candidate

Overall participation: 71%

Question 1:
List five initiatives that you believe are more important than finding a new baseball team for the City of Richmond.


Question 2:
What are two qualities that people who know you well might say make you suited for the office you seek?


Question 3:
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.

When I think of the current relationship between the mayor and city council, the words confusion and chaos are the first in line. In the future, both entities need to remeber they are on the same team and should be working closely together to perform the people’s business in a swift, efficient and cost frugal way.

Question 4:
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 Downtown Master Plan. Implementing the plan will involve a great deal of marketing to developers to ensure we get the projects we want. Richmond has historically fallen short in the marketing of itself and this must change. I would also support a streamlined approval process for development at a location that matches the Master Plan goal for that location. I would also ensure that any proposed changes or deviations from the plan were well advertised to the public and meetings held for the public’s input and approval. The Master Plan is only useful if the city government approves projects that match closely to the plan. Unfortunately in the past, projects not fitting with or remotely similar to the previous Master Plan have been permitted, which to me defeats the purpose of expending significant time, effort and money to develop a plan. Arbitrary set asides to encourage development for development’s sake is in stark contrast to the purpose of developing a plan, which is about deciding ahead of time generally what you want and where you want it. As most agree, our existing old and historic neighborhoods, whether they possess an actual designation or not, are one of Richmond’s greatest assets. One of the few that distinguishes the city from surrounding localities. The impact to these areas and the people and businesses currently there must be the priority when considering altering or deviating from the Master Plan.

Question 5:
What do you consider to be Richmond’s greatest asset? What do you consider to be its greatest liability?

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.

Question 6:
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?

I would work with GRTC and the public to improve the “user friendliness” of the current system and implement more runs with the smaller buses. This would ease traffic problems that occur with large buses on narrow roads and eliminate the costs of running the large vehicles for certain routes or during certain times when that capacity of seating is not needed. Also, bus stops need to be improved. Many of them are nothing more than a sign and a patch of dirt surrounded by woods and underbrush. I don’t want to wait there for a bus, so why would I think anyone else would. As far as promoting the current system, we need some interesting advertising about cost and time savings to riders, environmental improvements, etc. Tie bus pass purchases to a raffle or giveaway for lunch certificates or other moderate prizes each week and a larger prize each month. Richmonders are creative folks – we can come up with innovative ways to market our current system.

Question 7:
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.

A brand new mass transit system, such as light rail, will have to go on the back burner as will a new athletic stadium. Both of these will require significant contributions from the city and from the surrounding localities at a time when all are facing severe economic deficits. Infrastructure improvements and programs can continue or be expanded if waste and fraud are eliminated and better productivity is achieved within city departments. It is critical to elect representatives with a strong finance background to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and yield the highest level and quality of services.