From the candidates: week 2

We had a nice conversation last week in response to our first round of questions posed to Richmond mayoral and city council candidates. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look, head on over. This week’s question was a bit more personal: What are two qualities that people who know you well might […]

We had a nice conversation last week in response to our first round of questions posed to Richmond mayoral and city council candidates. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look, head on over.

This week’s question was a bit more personal:

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

Just like last week, we gave them until Sunday evening to respond. Below you’ll find a list of the candidates. If they got back to us, you’ll see their answer as well. If they didn’t, you’ll see a NO RESPONSE under their names.

City council candidate responses are also posted by district on their corresponding community blogs. We hope you’ll hop on over to those fabulous sites to discuss what the current and hopeful council reps. have to say. Any input you have for the mayoral candidates can happen in the comments here.

Mayoral candidates

Paul Goldman:


That’s right, this record of proven leadership has been discussed by the authors of several acclaimed books, on the pages of many of the nation’s leading daily newspapers and weekly news magazines, indeed in all the newspapers across Virginia. I took the lead in several historic efforts to expand the political and/or defend the political and personal rights of African-Americans and women against powerful forces who wanted to reverse the progress we had made, or even take us backward.

Moreover, here in Richmond, while my opponents were comfortable with the cronyism and corruption of the failed old form of government, I alone stood with the people of our city who wanted change: and so I wrote the Elected Mayor law, I led the petition drive to get this historic Charter Change on the 2003 referendum ballot, and then lead the campaign that won 80% of the vote to help make our new form of government a reality. My opponents didn’t believe you, the people, should have a vote in deciding who was your Mayor. And without the efforts of those of us – and I greatly admire all of those who helped me and joined in standing-up to the powerful interests opposed to change – you, the people of Richmond, would not be voting for Mayor this coming November.

I have been a leader in challenging what some have called the “Plantation Mentality” that ruled Virginia and Richmond: and I am proud that when I chaired the Virginia Democratic Party, we worked hard and there were more African-Americans and women elected to state and federal legislative office than eve before.


As I write this post, Richmond is the first city in the history of Virginia, as best I can tell from available sources, to be in the third month of a new fiscal year and not have a budget that City Hall and City Council can agree is the official city budget, not to mention a $6,000,000 deficit according to the city’s finance officer. Is it any wonder that based on available state statistics, Richmond appears to have the most expensive City Hall, City Council, and School Bureaucracy in the state, not to mention among the highest if not the highest combined water rates, gas rates and real estate taxes of any Virginia locality? According to the City Council’s own auditor, as admitted by City Council President Bill Pantele at our last debate, the City Council has been approving budgets that – in Mr. Pantele’s own admission – contained upwards of $60,000,000 in wasteful spending!

I am the only candidate who has pledged to cut taxes so we can start creating jobs in our city – according to a Kaine Administration study, Richmond had worst record on jobs, and the most private sector job losses, of any city in the state.

This has to be a “we” thing, not the “me” thing of those in office today: we, the people, have to take back control of our government, for it is spending money on big salaries and wasteful programs to the tune of millions of dollars, spending at a rate that is beyond the fiscal means of city residents. Moreover, given the current economy, and the huge state and federal budget deficits, Richmond is going to have to tighten the budget belt.

Besides a law degree, I also have a Masters in Public Administration, and will therefore be the first Mayor, to my knowledge, who has the fiscal and other training to meet the usual education requirements demanded of a top-rate city finance officer and chief administrative officer.

When I was Chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, I inherited a huge deficit: and turned it around to create a big surplus, having been praised for making the party financial sound by Mark Warner, among others.

Robert Grey:

(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.

Dwight Jones:

I believe most people would say that I am a collaborative leader who can bring people together and I have the most experience, both as a legislator for Richmond and in the community, of all the candidates in this race.

For the last several years I have served as the Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. In that role I have worked with Governors and members of both the House and Senator from both parties to push forward the goals and agenda of the Legislative Black Caucus. I worked with Governor Mark Warner to pass historic budget reforms that cut the food tax and expelled many seniors from the tax rolls. I worked with Governor Kaine to make new investments in Pre-Kindergarten. This past session, the Legislative Black Caucus led the effort, along with several organizations to reform Payday Lending in Virginia.

I have also worked in the community helping to build revitalize Hull Street. When everyone else had written Blackwell off as a lost community, we stayed on invested in the neighborhood. Our work on Hull Street helped change one of the most violent neighborhoods in all of Virginia. Our community development group built workforce housing, commercial property and a senior center right on Hull Street. Since we began our efforts, Blackwell has become a safer neighborhood and more people are beginning to live and work on Hull Street again.

Bill Pantele:
Either Mr. Pantele writes about himself in the third person or this task was passed along to someone else. I’m sure you’ll have your way with either scenario, readers.

1) Bill Pantele knows the City’s budget and how to make city government more accountable to the taxpayers. As a way to improve public education and make our schools more accountable, Bill spearheaded the first major audit of our public school finances. The audit identified $25 million dollars in potential savings. Bill then worked cooperatively with the City Council and the School Board to implement these savings. These funds can now be used directly in the classroom to help teachers and to improve student performance. Likewise, Bill will implement an additional $30 million in savings, identified by the City Auditor as wasteful spending in the city government budget. These resources can then be dedicated to important priorities like fighting crime, improving our roads and streets, and providing tax relief for hard-pressed homeowners and senior citizens.

2) Bill Pantele has a proven track record of fighting for the average citizen and will be “the People’s Mayor.” He has been a leader in the fight to cut the real estate tax rate by 23 cents over the past seven years. He led the fight to preserve Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA’s) for city government retirees in the most recent city budget. If elected Mayor, he will disband the Mayor’s nine man security detail and drive himself to work.

Lawrence Williams:

Four out of five. Not bad. But, Mr. Williams, where are you?

Moving right along…

City council candidates

District 1

Bruce Tyler (incumbent):

District 2

Tyron Bey:

People who know me best, and are excited about this campaign, point out many qualities that I have which would make me a great councilman.

1. Passion for community: As a Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year, a CACIL member for 13 years, Youth Matters Board Member, Urban Land Institute Young Leader, Urban League Young Professional, Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee Member, NAACP Affordable Housing Committee Member, Polaris of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. (Eta Chapter), 6th Mt. Zion Member, and countless other organizations, I have had the opportunity to work with many different facets of our community. All of these organizations work toward creating stronger communities which everyone can live in. I am proud to associate with all of these organizations and bring what they have taught me to the council. The diversity of these organizations is what help me want to make Richmond a city where everyone has a place. Everyone is loved. Everyone can contribute.

2. Audacity: The mere fact that I am running, knowing that I would be the underdog, shows that I am bold enough to try new things to push this city in a direction which will turn it into a top tier city. I haven’t been bought out by any special interest, nor do I have the political who’s who in my back pocket. I have a tenacious drive to make the audacious vision that my community has come to fruition, and it won’t be compromised.

Patrick J. Kjellberg:

Charles Samuels:

I could go on and on about why I think I’m the man for the job, however, while I was making the decision to run for this position, I asked people who know me if they thought I’d do a good job. They were very supportive and many of them focused on the following reasons why I would be a responsible council person:

1. I am willing to take the time to listen to what people have to say and educate myself on the issues before making a decision; and

2. I took the time to gain valuable experience essential to a good council person by being active for my community in many roles where I displayed an even-temper and conducted myself professionally and respectfully.

Head on over to Carver & Jackson Ward News, North Richmond News, and Fan District Hub to discuss the responses from District 2.

District 3

Jonathan Davis:
UPDATED: See Valerie’s comment below.

Chris Hilbert (incumbent):

I am passionate about the real issues facing our city. The issues of crime, education and community building are not just campaign rhetoric; they are very much a part of who I am.

Because an immediate family member of mine was murdered, I want safer streets for us all. I know the pain that this trauma inflicts upon the entire community. I want to not only be there for the community in a crisis, but am working on crime fighting issues such as adding 100 new police officers since I have been on council. It also means working on prevention programs, protecting our youth from the harsh realities of our streets by promoting positive activities in which they can participate.

Also, by being the first person in my family to graduate from college, I know what a difference it has made in my life. I went to an underperforming high school and know that I had to work that much harder when I went to college. I want those same opportunities for the children of Richmond, but without the obstacles that I faced.

Finally, I have spent the last 10 years of my professional career in community development lending. That is lending in low and moderate income neighborhoods, to developers of affordable housing and businesses that serve and/or employee low and moderate income individuals. Serving on city council provides me an opportunity to have an even greater impact in these areas.

Therefore, I believe that my life experiences uniquely qualify me for the most important issues facing our city: crime, education and building strong communities.

Persistent Independence:
When I came to council in 2005, I was ready to work with the Administration in a collaborative fashion on the important issues facing our city. I wanted to elevate the discussion. However, we quickly became entangled with issues over budget procedures and other technicalities. Nonetheless, I stayed true to my pledge to conduct myself in a fashion that would reflect positively upon the city. I did not engage in name-calling or other divisive language, yet I persisted in maintaining a sense of decorum even though I disagreed with others. I spoke out when I saw something that I believe was wrong, regardless of who was involved. My loyalties will always lie with the people of our district and the citizens of the city. They are the ones who sent me to city hall to represent their interests. It is certainly important to have good working relationships with people and I believe that I have laid that foundation at city hall. However, I do this in the context of knowing that I work for the residents of our district and the citizens of Richmond.

Stop by North Richmond News to weigh in on responses from District 3.

District 4

Kathy Graziano (incumbent):

District 5

Mark Brandon:
NO DIRECT RESPONSE – but see Valerie’s comment below.

Marty Jewell (incumbent):

Lee Shewmake:

District 6

Ellen Robertson (incumbent):

District 7

Clarence Kenney:
(Please note that the email address supplied by the State Board of Elections website bounced back. Mr. Kenney, get in touch with us if you have something to add!)

Delores McQuinn (incumbent):

District 8

C. Allen Barrett:

Eric W. Hunter, Sr.:

Reva Trammell (incumbent):

District 9

Doug C. Conner (incumbent):

Eugene Mason, Jr.:
(We tried until we were blue in the face to get an email address for Mr. Mason, but to no avail. Mr. Mason, you should get in touch with us, too.)

Adrian Preston:

I’m sure more responses will trickle in as the week goes on. And as you pile extraordinary pressure on the candidates to get in on the conversation. Now that we’ve gotten to know the candidates a bit better on a more broad spectrum, tune in during the following weeks for some more policy-specific questions. As always, if you have a question you’d like to submit, leave it in the comments or email them to

(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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