From the candidates: week 1

You might have heard that there’s an election coming up. In efforts to keep you RVANews readers up-to-speed on the happenings in our local political arena, RVANews decided (read: Ross said “Hey, we should do a thing,” and then I did it) to get in touch with mayoral and city council candidates with questions on […]

You might have heard that there’s an election coming up.

In efforts to keep you RVANews readers up-to-speed on the happenings in our local political arena, RVANews decided (read: Ross said “Hey, we should do a thing,” and then I did it) to get in touch with mayoral and city council candidates with questions on issues currently facing Richmond.

We gave them until Sunday evening to respond to our first question. 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 shameful NO RESPONSE under their names.

We’ll continue with this in the weeks up until the election. 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.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Our first question…

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

Mayoral candidates

Paul Goldman:
UPDATED: See comment from Gray below.

Robert Grey:
UPDATED: See Valerie’s comment below.

Dwight Jones:

1. Creating a World-Class Education System.
To build a better Richmond we must create an educational system that is worthy of our children; one in which cities across the nation look to as a model to emulate. We must have a school system that has no fear of creativity and new paradigms. We can spare nothing to ensure that our children have the tools they need to compete in the global economy. That means that our city’s schools must strive to not only excel in test scores but also excel in building character and good citizenship. We need to look specifically at our middle schools and work to make them models of innovation and creativity. We also need to focus on lowering Richmond’s exceptionally high truancy and dropout rates.

2. Restoring fiscal accountability to city government.
Our government has become too expensive and there is too much waste in City Hall. The City Auditor’s report shows waste is occurring in all departments. As Mayor, I will make the necessary changes listed in the auditor’s report and end the era of security entourages for the Mayor, excessive administrative spending in City Hall and misuse of the city’s vehicle fleet. If we have an efficient government we have a government that delivers city services effectively without raising taxes.

3. Keeping our neighborhoods safe.
Along with education, the most common issue I hear from citizens is keeping our neighborhoods safe. Over the past several months I have been going door-to-door talking with citizens, and throughout the city there are pockets of neighborhoods where every home has a security door and a serious concern about crime. We need to continue our efforts and work with citizens and our civic associations to promote community policing. A good relationship with the community and law enforcement leads to a safer community.

4. Investing in our neighborhoods.
Richmond has done a good job of promoting and developing Main Street, but we need a Mayor who will also focus on Hull Street, 26th Street, Brookland Park Boulevard, etc. What makes Richmond one of the best cities in America is its neighborhoods and we need to encourage the revitalization our neighborhoods. Over the past several years, I have worked to help revive Hull Street and provide work force housing in the Blackwell community. We need to help those interested in investing in our neighborhoods and provide them with the resources they need to succeed.

5. Providing a safety-net for that protects the least among us.
Our city has witnessed phenomenal growth and success, but there have been members of our population excluded from this resurgence. As mayor, I will launch a top to bottom review of what our city government is doing to assist the less fortunate, particularly the working poor. Working together with non-profits in the region and with our institutions of higher education, we can create programs that will protect their homes, their neighborhoods, and most important their livelihood.

Bill Pantele:

Lawrence Williams:

So that’s one candidate out of five. Tsk, tsk. I suggest you start sending some emails.

Moving on…

City council candidates

District 1

Bruce Tyler (incumbent):

District 2

Tyron Bey:

There are a couple of things that are more important than replacing the baseball team.

First of all, we need stronger support for our schools. I shared with the REA how one of my closest female friends have left RPS to teach in DC because she fills that she will receive more support as an Art Teacher. She feels that the political climate in Richmond has stifled the potential of strong academic programs. We need cooperation where our school system can work in concert with academic programs in some of our surrounding sister jurisdictions. We also need a sincere effort between the 5 four year institutions in our region to help all of the school districts in our region to create thematic centers which focus on certain areas of academics. This will enhance the education experience all of our youth. I am thankful for the endorsement of the REA. I shared this vision with them. And with me on council, we will begin to see that support.

Second, we need to have a regional approach to mass transit, and we need to repair our desperate roads.

Third, we need to encourage more small business opportunities in Richmond. Small businesses help create more jobs. Not only do we need to make the city easier for small businesses to succeed, we also need to lure some more major companies to the city. This all helps us to create more jobs, which allows us to spend our dollars in our communities several times before it leaves our community. This ultimately helps support any new schools, teams, roads, and any other infrastructure initiatives which makes Richmond great.

Fourth, we need to make Richmond a place where ALL can live. As we move toward helping the homeless find decent housing, we still create a community that Bill Gates can call home. In other words, we need to create housing options that invites the middle class and does not displace the poor. In my district exist one of the larger public housing communities. There isn’t a secret that RRHA will tear it down. We need to assist those who are there so that they are guaranteed housing there if they wish. By having a diverse choice of housing styles, with the new development, we help to create a more inviting community where we can get as close to one for one replacement as possible. This community will be a stronger community and not a repeat as to what happened in Blackwell.

Fifth, we need to not set a new team up for failure. We need to create a world class sports complex which will make Richmond a contender for more national sporting chains and events. This is not to be done totally on the city’s dime, but a regional approach which shows that a new Richmond Region has emerged where we work together. All of these things help us to get closer to A GREATER RICHMOND!!!

Patrick J. Kjellberg:

Charles Samuels:

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions. I believe the following five initiatives are more important than finding a new baseball team for the City of Richmond:

1. Redevelopment of public housing within the city and housing opportunities for those displaced by redevelopment;

2. Improvement of Richmond Public Schools – both in scores and in the perception of the schools;

3. While violent crime has dropped, we need a similar reduction of non-violent crime. I recommend we use the success of sector policing to work to reduce non-violent crime as well;

4. Ensuring services from city meet the investment citizens make in the city – residents of the city pay taxes, spend time working within their neighborhoods and communities to improve them, and donate their time to attend city meetings to ensure the will of the people is known. The residents should expect quality services from the city for all they do for the city; and

5. Cooperation between city council and mayor, and city and counties is essential to ensure the city remains an attractive place to live, work and play.

While I will personally miss the Braves as my wife and I enjoyed walking to the Diamond to see them play, I believe the Boulevard corridor can still become an incredible asset to the city. Soon we will have a new movie theater on the Boulevard and more development is on the way. We should use common sense to enhance what we have in this area to make it a destination spot for residents of the greater Richmond area.

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

District 3

Jonathan Davis:

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. 

Chris Hilbert (incumbent):

Continuing to Reduce Crime (Community Policing)
Improving our School System (Through improving our middle schools)
Blight Reduction (Getting legislation through General Assembly to hold property owners accountable)
Economic Development of our Neighborhoods (Increase CARE money)
Adequately fund our infrastruture improvements (Establish a storm water utility)

I could name 15 others. The replacement of the team is low on my priority list.

Stop by North Richmond News to weigh in on what Davis and Hilbert had to say.

District 4

Kathy Graziano (incumbent):

District 5

Mark Brandon:

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:
UPDATED: We got a response from Dr. Barrett. Let it be noted that his responses were initially sent in on September 14, but some serious technological challenges kept us from getting them. See Valerie’s comment below.

Eric W. Hunter, Sr.:

Reva Trammell (incumbent):

District 9

Doug 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:

So there you have it. Not a huge response with our first go around, but it’s a start. We’ll be emailing our second question out this afternoon along with a link to this post. Hopefully a nice, healthy RVANews response will encourage some of these folks to come out of the woodwork for the next round. Look for our next installment early next week.

Also, we’re always on the lookout for questions. We’ve got a few stashed away, but we’re sure you, dear readers, have some issues on your minds that you would like to see addressed. Send ’em our way or pass them along to the powers-that-be at your area’s community blog.

(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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