Live blogging a mayoral forum: part one

Hello everyone. I come to you from a seat labeled “reserved for media.” WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT WE COULD FALL SO FAR! Tonight begins the first of a three part nu-media experiment: the mayoral candidates talk and we effuse snarky quasi-useful content — in real time! Tonight’s topic is “The Future of Downtown.” I’ll leave […]

Hello everyone. I come to you from a seat labeled “reserved for media.” WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT WE COULD FALL SO FAR! Tonight begins the first of a three part nu-media experiment: the mayoral candidates talk and we effuse snarky quasi-useful content — in real time!

Tonight’s topic is “The Future of Downtown.” I’ll leave it at that. Oh and one more thing, call it a general life lesson: don’t ride your bike down Chamberlayne. Ever. Seriously.

Let the blogging begin?

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Robert Grey’s doppleganger is here, and he’s better dressed than Grey. It’s 10 minutes until showtime. Beer’s expensive. We’re waiting on the mysterious Tobacco Avenue guy to join us.

  2. Whoa I shook Paul Goldman’s hand. STAR STRUCK.

  3. Aaron Gilchrist looks sooooo smooth sitting next to the WRVA guy. That’s the TV/radio divide, right there. Eddie Slipek of Style? Total Southern reporter motif going — he looks like Sam Waterson in “I’ll Fly Away.”


  5. The Tobacco Avenue guy not only has frakkin’ crib notes, but he has a name — Jeff Kelley!

  6. Also Aaron Gilchrist: could he win in a fight against Tiki Barber? I’m just saying?

  7. I think the crowd just clapped when someone said “California sucks!”

  8. In case you didn’t know, Bill Harrison would like to tell you that the shops downtown are not owned by CALIFORNIA CONGLOMERATES. Like, say, the shops you find in California.

  9. It took until the end of the Bush Era, but downtown businesses now have recycling. First time since Reconstruction!

  10. I have heard that Paul Goldman is in the building. Most mayoral candidates took cars or walked here; Goldman USA, as his blog is called, parachuted in with a giant American flag hanging from his heels, as you can see in the picture I took, by clicking below.

  11. Ladies and Gentlemen, Jason Roop will soon release the candidates from the pen for the kick off of the Style Weekly/League of Women Voters “Pit Bulls in Lipstick” cage match. In the meantime, a few words from our sponsors…

  12. I’m jealous that you get to see Aaron Gilchrist. Not gonna lie: kinda love him.

  13. A word to Valerie and the other six Live Blog viewers: Feel free to chime in with your own commentary. Or questions. Oh, sorry, Val — way ahead of me.

  14. NBC12’s Aaron Gilchrist is here. As you may know, “Gilchrist” is actually Finnish for “Truly Amazing Wardrobe.”


  16. The Reverend walks in late! Is this how he’ll govern?

  17. Dwight Jones was late following the candidates into the room. Sources tell us he was “slightly too into” the spicy cheese cubes at the buffet.

  18. The candidates, from left to right are Goldman, Grey, Jones, Pantele, and Williams.

    Apparently the candidates are unaware of the questions about to be thrust upon them. THEY’VE BEEN HELD IN A GREEN ROOM WITH RICK WARREN.

  19. Goldman = burgundy tie. Grey = orange and blue. Jones = yellow and blue. Pantele = garish red. Williams = dark something.

  20. Robert Grey is a very tall man, with impeccable hair. Jason Roop, Style’s editor and the moderator of this panel, mentioned that he was a “big admirer” of Grey’s mustache.

  21. Ok it begins. Opening statements, left to right. Goldman starts first.

  22. Paul Goldman is speaking. He is so adorable. The voice, the mannerisms, the fact that the microphone needed to be lowered just a bit for him. So precious.

  23. Goldman’s opening statement takeaways:

    Shot about appointed mayors. “Prior to that, when they had an appointed mayor, nobody wanted your opinion.”

    Yay Master Plan, Goldman says.

    I woke up and there is a baseball stadium downtown, he says.

    No Echo Harbor.

    Says Parks and Rec Master Plan matters more to the city’s neighborhoods.

  24. Robert Grey up to bat.

  25. Grey’s opening statement takeaways:

    “It is time for the city to deliver on its promise to deliver efficient services to its citizens.”

    Cut waste. End politics as usual. A leader who will bring real results.

    Classroom and public transportation investment.

  26. There should be some kind of drinking game happening here. Take a shot every time someone says the word baseball.

  27. Robert Grey is speaking with the understanding that, one day in the future, Will Smith will play him in the movie about Richmond. The actor is expected to portray the mayoral candidate as a person who wants to grow confidence in city leaders, make it easier for businesses to flourish, and battle aliens every July 4th weekend.

  28. Goldman! Politics of Pwnage!
    Grey! Politics of Hope!

  29. Jones BEGINETHS

  30. Jones’ opening statement takeaways:

    “We are on the verge of turning the page”

    World-class education. Transportation. Public safety.

    “We can reduce the decible of acrimony.”

    “I support the Master Plan. I support its thrust, its goals… the river belongs to the people of Richmond,” Jones says.

  31. Guys guys, Pantele is speaking! BOSNIA!

  32. Dwight Jones just spoke. His voice is incredibly deep, so much even that seven of the beautiful windows were shattered and one of the chandaliers in this banquet hall fell on Paul Goldman. It is madness here.

  33. I…I feel like I’m right there. It’s amazing.

  34. Pantele’s opening statement takeaways:

    Downtown should be 24/7 — a message to all of you who try to get sleep at night. Stick around.

    “Feet on the street. That should be the future of downtown Richmond,” he says.

    No condos when I started on Council, he says.

    Lots of great development already — “But we can’t be complacent.”

    Push downtown housing. Push tourism. Make downtown an entertainment center. Public access to the river. A downtown trolley.

  35. Is anyone keeping a tally of how many times Williams says “professional” and/or “architect”?

  36. Pantele: “Lots of great development already”

    and a check from every developer /

  37. Pantele says the future of this city is based in being able to walk everywhere in an urban living envirinment, or as he puts it, “feet on the street.” The candidate told me before this debate that he worked for nearly 4 hours to get that rhyme, after tossing around “soles in the holes,” and “laces on our spaces,” though neither of which made any sense.

  38. Williams up.

  39. Williams’ opening statement takeaways:

    Make Richmond livable.

    “I was there,” he says of his tenure on the Downtown Plan commission/group.

    Richmond should be about “great style and great content.” Jason Roop just stood up and applauded.

    Three new communities built around three new elementary schools.

    I’m the only one who has a plan “to get from A to Z”

    Create equity in our neighborhoods. Richmond needs a good urban mayor.

  40. The fifth person who is standing up there is talking. He goes by “Lawrence E. Williams” and is saying something about community or growth or something like that.

    We are told he is running for mayor.


    Oh wait, sigh jk.

  42. Williams refused to use the word “architect,” even when asked.

  43. What’s A and what’s Z? What does that even mean?

  44. Whoa holy shit dudes, this guy from the radio totally has a radio voice. I was just hypnotized.

  45. The 6th Mayoral candidate, the only female, is talking. Her name is Veronica Moyer, a 23 year old former Hooters waitress. She has promised to “bring sexy back” to the mayor’s office, “a sexiness that has been lost in the past four years,” as well as recruit a Double-D League baseball team to replace the Braves.

  46. If you get an opportunity, ask Williams what “Freedom First, block by block” means. Its on his signs, seems to imply invasion.

  47. Has Pantele said “Bosnia” yet?

  48. First question:

    How do you deal with all of the Vacant Properties in town. Goldman goes first, he also didn’t answer the question but talked about teachers?

  49. Dwight Jones just talked about doing “door to door canvassing” around the town. Which poses a good question: What on earth does painting have anything to do with running for mayor?

  50. Jimmy Barrett of WRVA kicks it off: “As mayor what would you do to make sure these absentee landlords are responsible for their buildings?” (He cites 1700 abandoned buildings in Richmond)

    Goldman: Buy these houses. City makes the down payment. Attract young teachers by paying the down payment for them, or for police. “We need to make a commitment, and its a community commitment, that we’re no longer going to let these buildings run down.”

    Grey: Strict code enforcement = part of the efficiency he’ll bring. “We’ve started down that path … and we need to acknowledge that.” “Every neighborhood deserves our attention.”

    Jones: During his door-to-door canvassing in Northside, he asked what problem residents wanted to him to fix — “Look across the street, they said.” The city needs to lobby the General Assembly (go with what you know) for spot blight legislation.

    Pantele: We think too small about creative solutions. Work with the non-profit community organizations to make those houses available for single-family, affordable homeownership. Cites displacement from public housing, which he opposes.

    Williams: Been there, done that. You need someone who understands these issues. Work with owners. Increase inspectors. Deal with the elderly and be sensitive to their needs.

  51. Murden: “Technical” is the new “professional” in the Williams’ lexicon


    2. How would you support further growth of VCU in and around downtown *or* do you think that in terms of the historical impact the down town area has all it can handle in terms of VCU.

    Grey goes first.

  53. John Sarvay is the only one taking real notes. He is also the only one who has had five beers.

  54. The Man Who Calls Himself Lawrence E. Williams said something about the elderly, then made a hand motion. He is looking very mayoral.

  55. Jeremiah on said:

    I would have had at least six.

  56. Interesting: Jones wants VCU to consider satellite campuses with alternative transportation to and fro.

  57. Dwight Jones says we must support the university, but we need to eventually consider satellite campuses if growth becomes too much around the city. That, of course, would be a very bold – and expensive – move. Does he even understand how much it costs to shoot a satellite into space, much less one with a college campus on it?

  58. Ok I dare someone to ask Pantele a question involving Bosnia.

  59. I dare someone to ask if the candidates agree that Aaron Gilchrist is super cute.

  60. Aaron Gilchrist is next, asking about VCU expansion. “How would you support further growth of VCU downtown?” (Or has downtown seen enough?)

    Grey: Encourage VCU to develop on property it owns. Make sure what VCU does is compatible with neighborhoods. (Does anyone know what emoticon I should use for “He’s going on and on and one?”)

    Jones: No one can deny that VCU has been a wonderful neighbor (unless you live in Oregon Hill, maybe Carver). Concerned about West Hospital, sale of city property to VCU. Need to support VCU but there are limits. Satellite campuses may be in VCU’s future.

    Pantele: VCU and City of Richmond “have fortunes that overlap.” (Emphasis on the word “fortune”) Look at Broad Street today versus five years ago. We need VCU to continue to grow. There are some terrible impacts from parking and housing shortages. “We need a partnership agreement” from VCU, he says.

    Williams: “We’ve got vinyl siding on Broad Street?” “Some people said Trani was the mayor,” he said, and then trailed off. No punch line. Work closer with VCU. They have to deal with the homeless.

    Goldman: VCU and Richmond have been joined at the hip. “We shouldn’t have let the mayor teach at VCU,” he says to laughter. Trani can “teach Donald Trump a thing or two,” he adds. He means that in a good way.

  61. Question 3: Before you announced your candidacy for mayor when was the last time you took the GRTC. Also, what would you do to encourage a regional transportation system.

  62. Pantele admits that he cant remember the last time he rode a GRTC bus. Though he has said that the last time he took a bus was 1972, “with a bunch of guys, going to this music show, and, look man, it was ’76 OK?”

  63. Jones admits that he can’t even recall the last time he rode the bus. Honesty!

    Pantele says we need to “need to get busy” with updating the GRTC. He says last time he took the bus his car got towed and it took him 2hrs to travel 1.7mi. Dude I totally feel you. IT IS SO CONFUSING. UGH GRTC WEBSITE I PUNCH YOU.

  64. Jeff Kelley, because he hid so long behind an anonymous mask and uses a PC, keep losing network connectivity. Which means you lose the jokes.

  65. Goldman: never answered the last time he rode a bus. Wait wait, nm. He said a thing about a time.

  66. i don’t think i saw pantele’s name in the paper for the regional transportation study that richmond regional pdc did….

  67. Slipek throws the hardball (unless you’re Robert Grey): “When was the last time you took GRTC” before you were running for mayor?

    Jones: Honesty! “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been on GRTC.” (Did I mention I’m in the General Assembly?)

    Pantele: “I don’t remember the exact date.” Talks about routing system, not being smart enough to figure out, taking two hours to get home — “That is the problem with GRTC.” The 21st century and a trolley system will fix that.

    Williams: “I live in Church Hill … and two or three days a week, I’ll take the bus.” GRTC is best-run bus company in America. He just punched Pantele on the shoulder. Jokingly.

    Goldman: (I totally got distracted by technical issues. Me, not Goldman.)

    Grey: Rode the bus for five weeks. Slipek interrupts to say the question was “Before you were running for mayor…” Grey says he’s getting to it.

  68. Jeremiah on said:

    which means he never rode one…not that anyone can blame him. I used to ride it to regency and it would take well over an hour, and i would get to work stupid early and not get paid for it and AGHAKFL;;DJASKLFDJSOF;QJP

  69. Question 4: Do you support building a new ball park in Richmond? Where should the new ball park be built if we have one. What should the city be prepared to do to support a new ball park.

    Pantele starts.

  70. fuck baseball, I’m so tired of that.

  71. Guys, I’m just going to put it our there:

    Baseball is soooooo boring. Amen?

  72. Jeremiah on said:


  73. Yeah! preemptive amen from john m!

  74. After being asked “the baseball question,” The Sixth Mayoral Candidate, Hooters waitress Veronica Moyer, is currently giving her take on bringing a Double D league ballclub back to the city. No kidding, it’s hot.

    Very, very hot.

    Also, the Lawrence Williams guy said something about baseball. Sounds like it makes sense, so apparently he’s done some research for this debate!

  75. Jimmy Barrett asked something about a ballpark.

    Pantele: Draws the line at Double A baseball. Wants the Boulevard to remain a “sports and entertainment corridor.” Hasn’t seen a feasible plan for other sites. Put it on the Boulevard. “Let’s get on with it,” he says.

    Williams: “Here we go again.” He’s running partly to keep the focus on other, apparently more important, issues. Also calls for baseball on the Diamond.

    Goldman: “The downtown baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom is not going to happen .. it’s over with.” The Boulevard is the place. “We don’t even know if it’s an A or a Double A or a Triple Z.” Build new schools. I won’t turn my back on the children, he says.

    Grey: It’s going to take private investment.

  76. Robert Grey just gave his input on whether we need another baseball team here to replace the Braves. He admits he “isnt such a fan” of baseball or sports in general, “thinks watching it on TV is boring,” and says fans are “a bunch of hooligans.”

    He then suggested that we isntead build a giant field for playing croquet, “a sport that is much more tame.”

  77. Ok after seven beers John needed to pee. Here is Dwight Jones response:

    * It is a necessity to have professional baseball in Richmond (like MLB dudes, but at least AAA).
    * You need to give the ball teams whatever they want “they are in the drivers seat.”
    * We’ll have to incentivise a team to get one.

  78. Paul Goldman would like to remind you that he walked 45 miles IN THE FRIGGIN’ SNOW to get the Constitution of the United States delivered to Benjamin Franklin’s printing press in Philadelphia in 1776, dammit.

  79. “You need to give the ball teams whatever they want “they are in the drivers seat.””

    Seriously? I’d’ve thought that with all of his support in the East End and Southside that he’d have better priorities than that.

  80. I like baseball a whole lot.

  81. Since I totally missed the question…

  82. NEXT QUESTION (5?): How would you characterize regional cooperation on a whole in metro Richmond and what would you do to change it if necessary.

  83. On the question of regional cooperation, Paul Goldman turned to his campaign advisor, Paul Goldman, who turned to his messaging guy, Paul Goldman, who turned to the political advisor and who many analysts consider Goldman’s “man behind the scenes,” Paul Goldman.

    The answer was pretty good, something about “Yes we need to collaborate on stuff.”

  84. Williams:

    I was having some inets issues. But the gist was:

    * Blue & Red busline would be a regional transportation authority that would be good.
    * “Richmond has to get its own act together”
    * Maybe we should just focus on the schools! Who can go wrong with schools!

    I think his scene was, hey man, you need to work on your self first.

  85. Does anyone remember the “Jim and Kay” commercials for The Grocery Store? Bill Pantele = totally Jim, but white.

  86. Dwight Jones just spoke and corrected Aaron Gilchrist on the pronunciation of his name. The candidate says: “The “DW” makes a “YA” sound, the I and T are silent, and the “GH” make a “HOO!” sound.”

  87. Ok question 6: How do you see a paradigm unfolding for the ongoing discussion regarding the redistribution of the residents of the Gilpin Court community.

    Ooooo! Dicey.

  88. Ed Slipek from Style Weekly just asked a question and told the candidates to “hurry the [expletive] up on the answer, because Jon and Kate Plus 8 comes on tonight.”

  89. Paul Goldman agreed on the Jon and Kate Plus 8 comment, and is talking really fast. Grey now also talking fast, but that’s because he had a few too many waters beforehand and has “gotta go.” The sixth mayoral candidate, former Hooters waitress Veronica Moyer, is just standing there, looking really hot.

  90. I love JOn and Kate Plus 8!!

  91. Every question from transportation to downtown development to Gilpin Court, is answered in my head by Bill Pantele with one word — “Condos!”

  92. Jeremiah on said:

    Ross, as your friend and another husband, I’m going to have to ask you to relinquish your balls.

  93. Slipek goes for the throat with a Gilpin Court question: “How do you see a paradigm unfolding for the unfolding discussion for the redistribution of the residents of the Gilpin Court community?”

    Goldman: It’s going to be a real test for our community. And now I’m going to avoid the question entirely by talking about my Shadow Council. Back to point: “When you start displacing people … what could be a more moral issue, what could be a more important issue?”

    Grey: “Richmond has a very high concentration of public housing … we owe it to the citizens in public housing every opportunity to be successful.” Let’s think about this, he says. It takes people willing to see a neighborhood be created. “I believe we can really advance the development of other homes in Highland Park,” he says in reference to the demolition of Dove Court in that area. He’s got some passion in his voice here.

    Jones: The whole model “was a failed experiment of the 50s.” Immoral, unacceptable. “We have got to decentralize poverty.”

    Pantele: We play small ball. “What if we really sat down and started thinking bigger?” What if we took the city owned land around Gilpin Court and do better planning to rebuild their community.

    Williams: Wants to “create something beyond belief.” But hasn’t quite told us what that would be. New homes.

  94. The audience asks about trash collection. On principle, I refuse to live blog questions related to the fundamental business of government.

  95. Ok now it is time for questions from the audience. An audience mass exodus just happened!

  96. Seriously, no recycling for business is ludicrous. How is that possible?

    Everyone’s in agreement that the city just needs to do a better job doing … basic city services. Oh, seriously?

  97. Yes! Williams calls for every councilperson to have their own dump truck or cherry picker!

  98. Pantele and Jones just share a snarky look and chuckle over William’s suggestion over each city council rep have a cherry picker available to use on a discretionary basis.

    It’s like John McCain v. Ron Paul up in here! Please make more jokes and talk less about policy!

  99. This is so cool.

  100. Final Question: Do you feel that after the recent audit from city services the excess should be cut from the budget or transfered to improving schools, beautifying the city, or etc?

    (Also the last question from the audience = ( — THAT’S RIGHT FROWNY FACE.

  101. Ol’ Tobacco Ave needs to get a Mac, and then maybe he could post some more. I’m just saying.

  102. TOBACCO AVENUE is having technical difficulties and also is sitting at the bar with the sixth mayoral candidate showing her how he can shave his face “baby bottom smooth.”

  103. Jones, Pantele, Williams: better watch out because if the economy keeps tanking we might need that excess.

  104. speaking of mccain and paul…grey is the romney of the bunch, what a gameshow host!

  105. OK where were we. hopefully back in action…

    Robert Grey just answered a question about the recent services audit. He replied that he loves his Audi “a whole lot.”

    The sixth mayoral candidate said she would take the wasted funding uncovered in the audit, and would created “the bestest ever Public Pole Dancing School System ever.”


    We should just go out on top guys, seriously.

  107. Jeremiah on said:

    whatever…i’m voting for this guy

  108. My brain just stopped working again. Audience question about where to put funds potentially saved from the recent audit.

    Jones: Wall Street and Virginia’s budget woes makes me a huge pessimist. If we can “keep the lights on” than we can use the funds for schools and “the Master Plan, which I thought we were going to talk about tonight.” Dig!

    Missed Pantele and Williams on account of technical distractions.

    Except that Williams shares Jones’ sense of doom.

    Goldman: Did I mention my master’s degree in public administration? Not to voters: I get it. I was the finance go-to guy for Wilder (the good one, from the past) and for Mark Warner.

    Grey: He laughs. Then speaks. “I think that the mayor and the City Council have to sit down” and budget against what the citizens want.

  109. The mayoral candidates are doing their closing statements. Pantele just talked about “gaining our momentum,” while Lawrence Williams and Dwight Jones talked about needing change in a critical time of our…Oh wait…Do you all see that outside the window?…It’s…It’s…is that a f–king T-Rex? Downtown? Oh my GOD! It’s coming right for the window! Oh he’s…here he comes! Nooo! It’s got Paul Goldman! Someone save him! Oh Jesus for the love of Aaron Gilchrist somebody save him! He’s going after Style editor Jason Roop and right for the media table and AAARGGHH!!!

  110. Mayoral Forum Hour Two: When we’ve lost all hope.

    To those that find this, tell our families we love them. It’s been diffffficcullldsfsakgdj VULTURES!!! dgksdlgs.

  111. Selective listening closing comments:

    Williams: Technical. Livable city. Work with the lady. Riverboat politics.

    Pantele: Celebrate! Let’s go. Dare to be big. Trolley. Downtown. Downtown. Downtown.

    Jones: Nice time lady. Dance with both parties. I have done that. Remember the Alamo.

    Grey: Attention. Richmond is ready. Operating. More taxes. Look.

    Goldman: We thing. Modernized. I. I. I. I. Veto. Mess.

  112. Brilliant work all around, livebloggers. I feel like I was there!

    All of that and we still don’t know where three of the five candidates stand on the Downtown Master Plan! Oh well…

  113. I clearly heard Jones, Goldman and Williams sing the Downtown Plan’s praises. I guess we’ll find out where Pantele stands when Council votes on it on October 13.

  114. … and we’ll just wait until after he’s elected to find out where Robert Grey stands.

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