Robert Grey

Overall participation: 100%

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

1.Make the education of our young people and adults the top priority – because good schools and good education means good jobs.

We need to provide Richmond teachers with the resources they need to educate our children. Richmond cannot prepare its young people for successful careers when it spends more dollars per student than any of its surrounding counties but dedicates less of those dollars to the classroom.

Richmond also needs to recognize that there is more than one way to educate and we need to ensure that all of our students receive the skills they need to become part of the workforce of the future. That is why I support additional technical schools in the City.

We need to improve the safety of our schools. Our students are fighting an uphill battle when they must deal with serious incidents of violence in their schools. We need to conduct public safety audits of our schools and make sure that no matter where our children are learning or what they are learning, they are safe.

2. Cut government waste and fraud so that services can be delivered more effectively and property taxes can be reduced.

We need to cut tax bills – not just our tax rates. The City Council talks about lowering your tax rate, but the assessments shoot sky high, which means families pay more in these tough economic times. That is not the kind of leadership we need in Richmond.

I want to minimize waste and maximize value in city government. That means better use of technology, streamlining administrative processes, and cutting excess and waste. We need to stop shortchanging GRTC and expand bus routes rather than cutting those routes critical to the people of Richmond.

3. Build upon the gains we’ve made in reducing crime across our City.

One of my top priorities will be to continue community policing and ensure that we have enough police on the street who are equipped with the technology to do their jobs.

4. Improve regional cooperation.

We need to reach out to the administrations of the neighboring jurisdictions and engage in a mutually beneficial dialog. An immediate place to begin the cooperation is with mass transit. In these precarious economic times and with spiraling gasoline prices, we need to ensure that all our citizens can get to their jobs, both in and out of the City. We need to have dependable regional mass transit that will make certain this can happen, while also protecting and preserving our environment.

5. End bickering at City Hall.

The people at City Hall are supposed to be public servants and this means they need to work for the benefit of the people of Richmond. The people cannot be served when their representatives are busy bickering and trying to score political points. We need to get rid of the status quo and usher in a new era of cooperative accomplishment.

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

(1) Throughout my career I have worked with almost every constituency that can contribute to the success of our City. I have been part of the solutions to the problems in Richmond, not part of the cause and it is this experience that I will bring to the Office of the Mayor. I can bring people together to make Richmond a better place to live, work and raise a family. I have a record of uniting people around common goals and have achieved success in managing the achievement of those goals.

I worked with the business community as Chair of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce to raise money and create a program that helps improve life for some of the metro area’s neediest children by improving youths’ reading skills, teaching parenting skills to their parents and providing safe havens and activities after school.

As President of the American Bar Association, I led an effort to reform the way jury trials are conducted in order to ensure that everyone gets a fair trial by jury – not just those who have the means to hire expensive lawyers or know how to work the system.

And as past President of the Crusade for Voters I worked to expand opportunity for all Richmonders.

(2) As Mayor I won’t just talk about our problems and study the solutions, saving the real work for another day. I have a record of management that exhibits the kind of skills we need in a Mayor and actions we need to take with our City to move it forward into the future.

When I was Chair of the Department of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board we reorganized the agency and brought about unprecedented efficiencies to our operations. It is that type of management experience – not politics as usual – that we need in City Hall.

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.

Richmonders are tired of the bickering and in-fighting at city hall. As Mayor, I will unite people around the common goals that allow our city to realize its potential.

Those in elected office need to unite around common goals to get good things done for our citizens, rather than allowing gamesmanship and petty politics to interfere with progress. To move our city forward in the future it will take a leader in the Mayor’s office who has the experience working with all the communities in the region that have Richmond’s best interest in mind, as well as someone who will bring professionalism to City Hall. By giving respect you get respect, and our citizens want us to succeed and deliver on the promise of public service. As Mayor I’d first start the tone of collaboration by asking the City Council, the Police Chief, the School Superintendent, citizens, and the business community to bring recommendations forward for the position of Chief Administrative Officer. By working together to fill this key position, a good working relationship would be in place on day one, as all the stakeholders would be part of the decision-making and hiring process. Secondly, within the first 90 days of taking office I’d join with each of the members of city council and the school board in their own district to have a Mayor’s Night Out. Together we’d meet with citizens in each of our city’s nine districts to h ear the concerns of citizens and get their input of how to best assist them with the needs of their community.

My opponents have plans that include the creation of more bureaucracy. To move our city forward I believe we should cut bureaucracy and red tape, and not create more I’m the only candidate for Mayor who has proven successes bringing diverse groups of people together to get a job done. As a businessman and the former President of the Crusade for Voters, the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Chairman of the ABC Board under Governor Robb, President of the American Bar Association, and the Urban League, I have the experience and depth of knowledge to work move this city on the right track.

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?

There are many elements of the Master Plan on which we need to move forward as soon as possible. We can’t continue to wait to make Richmond live up to its full potential and we can’t realize that potential until we have a leader who will stand up and get real results. But given the current economic realities facing the country and the state, it will take a leader who can set priorities and get real results to move Richmond forward. I will use the office of the Mayor as a bully pulpit – not to bully, and not to preach, but to lead to take action by bringing everyone to the table who has an interest in the success of our city. The people of Richmond are proud of their city despite the challenges we have often faced. It’s time they have a leader who they can be proud of as well.

The diversity of our people is our greatest asset, but Richmond is also blessed by our geography on the river, our moderate climate and scenic beauty. Maintaining and preserving the natural beauty of the river and preserving and creating new open space will be vital to Richmond’s future. We should ensure that there is enough river front and view for all Richmonders for generations to come to enjoy.

Furthermore, we should be the hub of the region for sports, culture, arts, recreation and entertainment. We can only be that center when our downtown and neighbors become family and business friendly. Utilizing gateways would further enhance our city, allowing us to be seen as the vibrant capitol city that we are. By responding appropriately to land use and context, our transportation plan for the city can be more user friendly both for pedestrians, cyclists and automobile traffic.

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

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.

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’ve been riding the city buses, and I’m convinced that now, more than ever, we shouldn’t be cutting public transportation. Even though the last few weeks have seen a drop in gas prices, families are still struggling with the cost of fuel and the prices of other items that are sky-rocketing. Furthermore, we can’t be assured that the drop in gas prices will be maintained. As a nation, a region, and a city we must look at viable transportation options.

The benefits of public transportation are solid: it saves individuals money, it’s better for our environment, it encourages a healthier lifestyle, and it eases traffic congestion – just to name a few benefits. While people ride public transit for many reasons, service and convenience have to be the top priority to ensure continued ridership.

Like many other city services, we need to make it easier — not harder — to participate and utilize the service we provide to our citizens. The routes should be made more clear and understandable, and we need to work with our regional partners to give our citizens the ability to travel smoothly from the city to the counties and back in a timely manner. Empty buses riding around town don’t provide any benefit to anyone; a thorough and thoughtful analysis of routes and ridership is in order. We also need to ensure that transportation is accessible for all of our citizens.

As the Chair of the Capital Regional Collaborative, former Chairman of the Greater Richmond Partnership and former Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, I will use my experience to bring all interested parties to the table to make the use and ease of public transportation a reality. We have to acknowledge that it’s a challenge to ask people to not use their cars, but when it’s just as convenient and more cost effective to ride public transportation, we will have greater participation. By working with the community and our regional partners to make public transportation easier to use, and by working with businesses to encourage its usage, we can gradually make public transportation a viable option for more Richmonders.

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.

In times of economic scarcity, our city doesn’t have to be held back from making progress. Everyone in our community should work together to share in both the challenges and the opportunities to achieve prosperity. There will always be times when politicians are scared to act, but by setting priorities that will help our economy in the long run and by bringing people together; we can make progress in challenging times. The business and non-profit communities want our city to flourish because they know their success in part is tied to the success of the city – and we want them to thrive because that means good jobs for our citizens and greater volunteer support for our community. Working together is a win-win situation for our city and for our citizens. By working with the community with public private partnerships, Richmond can fare better than most cities in tough economic times.

Furthermore, by making Richmond city government more transparent and accountable we can give our citizens more and better services for less. As Mayor, I will require that all departments submit data and analysis to make us more efficient and to cut waste and fraud. Richmond is the capital of one of the founding states of our nation – but we haven’t been able to come up with an efficient way of providing better services to our citizens.

Last month, David Ress reported in the Richmond Times Dispatch that based on a study by the city auditor, Richmond residents do not think they get their money’s worth from City government. David explained that Richmond’s per-capita spending on operations and maintenance is 25 percent above comparable localities; yet when questioned about provision of services, Richmonders responded that customer service in city agencies is poor, city services costs are too high and city conditions could be better. The study noted that RichmondWorks hasn’t yet tracked key departments such as police and fire and its data for other agencies is not well-enough organized to track their performances.

CitiStat is a data driven management system used to monitor and improve the performance of city departments in real time and it has received national attention. CitiStat was first implemented in Baltimore in 2000 by then Mayor (now Governor) Martin O’Malley. Between 2000 and 2007, Baltimore saved $350 million by using CitiStat, which is why 11 U.S. cities and 2 states are now using CitiStat to hold those departments providing citizen services accountable and move their cities and states toward progress.

Based on this data-driven approach to management, CitiStat applied basic principles of accountability to government, measuring both inputs and outputs to produce real, measurable goals and outcomes for the people of Baltimore. Applying those same principles in Richmond can make our city more efficient, saving people time and money.
Richmond can benefit from this system that the New York Times reported in 2001 was “hailed by government specialists as a pioneering innovation in across-the-board, eye-on-the-sparrow management.” RichmondWorks, implemented in fall of 2007 is based on a CitiStat model. RichmondWorks was a first step for the future of our City, and we can and should build upon RichmondWorks to make it more like CitiStat.

As Mayor, I will build upon the data-driven governance that RichmondWorks began and will take it to the next level by adopting the CitiStat model in its entirety. This will entail:

* Including EVERY city department, starting with the departments that have the most critical impact on the lives of our citizens – including police and fire and rescue. RichmondWorks collects data only from some city departments, but I will see to it that every city department is gathering performance data. Every department will collect data every day so that we can better analyze and evaluate how responsive our city government is so that we can find efficiencies and cut waste.
* Under RichmondWorks the participating departments only submit data for analysis once a month. But under CitiStat, every department will submit data every 2 weeks to the CitiStat team of analysts. The analysts will be trained in statistics and geographic information systems. The team will be able to identify relationships and geographical patterns across agencies which they will present at the CitiStat meetings. By understanding how issues in the city impact each other, agencies can work better together.
* The CitiStat meetings will be held every 2 weeks, instead of every three months which is the model RichmondWorks currently follows. As Mayor, I will preside over these meetings with other senior staff members, similar to the RichmondWorks plan. One difference though is that EVERY city department head will attend the CitiStat bi-weekly meetings and will be held accountable to the Mayor’s Office for an explanation of their data, and action plans. The discussions at these meetings, where everyone is brought together, will shape the office’s creation of city policy and allocation of resources.
* Like RichmondWorks, I will continue to gather data from the 311 call in line to report complaints and request city services. A Grey Administration will also continue the publication of information, via the city website, for the people of Richmond. But under a CitiStat model the actual data reports will be published and citizen input on solutions based on this data will be welcome. I will change the manner of collecting this data so that it is better organized to spot trends and will continue the procedure of following up with each department every time its data is the subject of discussion at the CitiStat meeting.

Part of good leadership is giving credit where credit is due. RichmondWorks was a start. Now it is time to take it to the next level. I’m the only candidate with the plan to bring more accountability, transparency and efficiency to City government. I’m committed to implementing CitiStat because I agrees with the Boston Globe’s reporting in 2006 that CitiStat is “an example of just how good – inspiring even – local government can be.