Meet the 7 men and 1 woman running for Richmond mayor

Posted at 2:31 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-20 14:36:25-04

RICHMOND, Va. — On November 8, 2016, Richmond will elect its new mayor. Eight candidates have qualified to be on the ballot for the November election. In an effort to get to know the candidates a little better, they were asked questions about their past experience and vision for the city. Scroll down to read more about the candidates and see their answers.

Jon Baliles: 1st District City Councilman


Why should Richmond vote for you?

I think my history with the city, my public service on the council as well as a staff member shows that I’ve got the experience and judgment to put Richmond’s interests above other special interests.

This is a critical election for the future of the city. And it needs to be decided on who people can trust to get the job done and lead the city, and not based on who’s got money or the special interests behind them.

What unique experience would you bring to the role of mayor?

I’m the only candidate in the race with experience in the executive branch [of the city] – when I was staff for Mayor Wilder, and when I worked in planning and development.

And I’ve worked legislatively on the council for the last few years. So I’ve seen how this government works from every angle.

What positive changes would Richmond see under your tenure?

Richmond would see a commitment to a more stable funding stream for schools and essential government services. My time as mayor would not be spent going after big flashy projects that cost a lot of money, it would be spent on projects that mean the most to the most people.

Do you support stronger governmental transparency from city officials?

Absolutely. There won’t be any confidentiality agreements if I’m elected mayor. On the council, I’ve sponsored successful legislation that requires more transparency from the mayor’s office, such as the public check registry and monthly financial data.

Jack Berry: former Venture Richmond Director


Why should Richmond vote for you?

Richmond is on a roll.

There is a new sense of optimism and hope for the future, and Richmond is on its way to becoming one of America’s great cities.

But there is more work to be done to make sure that every person, in every part of town, fully shares in the new opportunities being created in our city.

I’m running for mayor to make Richmond a magnet of opportunity for young people, families and businesses, and a more hopeful place for those who have been left behind.

What unique experience would you bring to the role of Mayor?

We have some huge issues to tackle in Richmond and we need someone who isn’t a politician, who doesn’t want to be a politician, but a leader, with a track record, who can bring the community together.

As CEO of Venture Richmond, I brought over 1,000 volunteers together and led the organization and production of the Richmond Folk Festival, which has been a source of pride for the entire region.

As a county administrator, I championed the largest bond referendum in county history for school construction.

I also negotiated a break-through water supply with Richmond, Hanover and Henrico.

As Richmond’s Deputy City Manager, I led the crisis response to the collapse of private ambulance services in the city, and the creation of Richmond Ambulance, which has become a national model of exceptional emergency medical care.

What positive changes would Richmond see under your tenure?

First, we must rededicate ourselves to efforts that will unify the community, working together across racial lines, and engaging in honest conversations about issues that separate us.

As Mayor, I will lead and support the innovative efforts of the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building.  This includes attacking poverty from every angle, housing, transportation, public safety, job training and health initiatives.

We must unify efforts to improve public education, which is key to ending the cycle of poverty for our move vulnerable children.

Our community is failing far too many children. And, we seem to fight more than we collaborate. We must unite the region to tackle important issues like regional transportation and regional facilities.

And finally, we must build a high-performing City Government that provides basic, essential services really well, and expertly manages City finances for the benefit of every citizen and taxpayer.

Do you support stronger governmental transparency from city officials?

Richmond deserves a mayor you can trust, someone who will guarantee transparency and listen and work with every citizen.

Partisan politics and patronage have no place in City Hall. Richmond needs a mayor who will unify the community to tackle the enormous challenges we are facing today. It can be done; it is all a matter of leadership. Together, we can make RVA a magnet of opportunity.

Bobby Junes:  retired real estate consultant

Bobby JunesWhy should Richmond vote for you?

I think things are out of step with the city of Richmond’s operations. Something’s missing. I feel like I can reach out and get a strategy where everyone’s on the same page.

What unique experience would you bring to the role of mayor?

I’ve got 10 years as Recreation and Parks Commissioner for Henrico County. I’ve got two years experience on the board of Real Estate Review for Henrico County. I’ve been project director of Habitat for Humanity for the Richmond area. And I’ve also served on the board of CARITAS for six years.

What positive changes would Richmond see under your tenure?

The three items that I’m really focused on: the first one is education. The second one is what I call economic partnership – that’s between employers and employees. And the third one is a rating system I call two-factor, where you get what’s called active citizen engagement. It’s a rating system where the residents get to rate the city’s performance in different areas, and vice versa. It’s not just a one way street.

Do you support stronger governmental transparency from city officials?

Yes. Absolutely. In terms of transparency, we’re going to have fixed objectives to meet, and then we’ll have variable objectives as we see fit.

Joe Morrissey: former state Del. and Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney

841177_127396954103495_723693795_o-535x571Why should Richmond vote for you?

This is why Richmond should hire me as the next chief executive officer of the city – number one, I’ve got the experience. I’ve done something in my life.

I’ve run three separate million-dollar businesses, and we’ve run the businesses profitably and under budget. I’ve run a state agency, the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, and did it efficiently and under budget.

What unique experience would you bring to the role of mayor?

I’m the only candidate who has run for citywide office and won.

I’m the only candidate who has actually been elected by contiguous cities and jurisdictions. Everyone talks about regional cooperation – I’ve already represented folks in Henrico, Hopewell, Charles City County, Prince George County.

What positive changes would Richmond see under your tenure?

I’m very fiscally prudent. I’m going to run the city like a business.

First and foremost, we’re going to focus on potholes, clearing the alleys, cutting the grass. We’re going to remove snow and leaves in a timely fashion. We’re taking care of our first responders, and fixing our schools.

We’re not going to focus on a $15-million bike race that brought the city zero money. Or a $14 million Redskins stadium that we built for them, and then paid the Skins $400,000 a year to play in for two weeks. We’re not going to spend millions on a brewery. We’re going to focus on municipal needs, first and foremost.

Do you support stronger governmental transparency from city officials?

Absolutely. Everything that is done when we spend our money, when we enact legislation or ordinances, will be done fully transparent. And there is absolutely no reason why the chief executive of the city, and the city council aren’t in this together.

I’m talking with city council candidates and school board members all the time, and we see eye to eye. And this is crucial – nepotism and cronyism will be extinct words during my administration. Nobody will get a job because they go to my church, work in my school or my law office.

The question will be first and foremost, do you have the skill set to do the job?

Michelle Mosby: City Council President


Why should Richmond vote for you?

Richmonders should vote for me because I not only have roots here, but I am concerned about every facet of the city. As a first term council member I have gained the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for the complexity of local government.

As the sitting city council president and a woman, I bring a fresh new perspective and approach as to how we move our city forward safely and responsibly into its next chapter with all Richmonders included.

What unique experience would you bring to the role of mayor?

I believe I am unique because of my roots in the city and once again because I am a woman.  As the sitting city council President, I have had the opportunity to yield results in my first three years on council.

I have with this council already begun the conversation of a dedicated source of funding for schools.

With this council I have already given the finance department the resources to staff so that the department works efficient and effective.  I have already in this last budget cycle given the first dollars we found to schools.

I have already begun putting systems in place for accountability, efficiency, and transparency. I have already begun to bring council, school board, and administration together, which had not happened in 11 years.

What positive changes would Richmond see under your tenure?

Richmond would see a five-to 10-year plan to transform Richmond neighborhoods and schools. Richmond would see Southside become a major component in our master plan.

Richmonders would be informed and excited about growing our economy. Richmond would see systems in place that are functioning at top capacity and services that are provided in excellence.

Do you support stronger governmental transparency from city officials?

Yes, I believe in a city where the people are informed and involved is a city running on all cylinders. My administration will go throughout the city having dialogue in the different districts (Mosby’s 60 Minutes). Transparency is what I believe will restore trust in government, and that is what I intend to do.

Bruce Tyler: former First District Councilman

bruce-tyler-jon-baliles1Why should Richmond vote for you?

I think it’s time for what I call a purposeful leader with a vision to move our city forward. Vision 20/20, which I’ve been talking about, will allow us to create a well managed government with improvements to our schools, and our roads and infrastructure.

What unique experience would you bring to the role of mayor?

It starts with 40 years of experience living in Richmond, combined with my architectural background, my business skills and my city council experience.

All that together makes me a very unique candidate for mayor. I bring the leadership required to fix our current situation.

One thing I feel very strongly about is I always look for dynamic solutions.

What positive changes would Richmond see under your tenure?

Richmond will become one of the best managed cities in America, which will restore the confidence of our citizens in city government. We will invest in our schools to create a competitive urban school system, which will reduce flight to the suburbs.

We’re going to fix the roads and the sidewalks and maintain them going forward. And we’re going to do all this without raising real estate taxes.

Do you support stronger governmental transparency from city officials?

Absolutely. Our city government must be open and transparent. And that starts with the mayor. I’m going to make myself available to citizens, the city council, the school board and the media. I will be a visible mayor.

Levar Stoney: former Sectretary of the Commonweath under Gov. Terry McAuliffe


Why should Richmond vote for you?

I think Richmond is on the rise. I think the city’s looking for a leader who can harness our momentum and take us to the next level.

Like many of the children in the city of Richmond, I know how it feels to want. I believe 78 percent of the children in Richmond Public Schools are on free and reduced lunch, and just 16 years ago, I was on free and reduced lunch.

Having the ability to empathize with people of the city, and being able to manage multi-million dollar organizations like I’ve done, I think I can bring something new to this race.

What unique experience would you bring to the role of mayor?

I was the executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, where we won Virginia for President Obama in ’08. Also, in my role as deputy campaign manager for Governor McAuliffe, I helped him win Virginia in 2013, and as Secretary of the Commonwealth have helped create a transformative culture by restoring the voting rights of over 200,000 people.

I will bring that same sort of approach to City Hall.

What positive changes would Richmond see under your tenure?

I’m going to focus on children and families every single day. After my tenure as mayor, I think the city could expect more families living here long-term, because the quality of education would change.

People could expect us not to play second fiddle to cities like Nashville and Charlotte and other cities in the South.

We want to be mentioned in the same breath as those new South gems. And I think they can expect a city hall that is transparent, accountable to the people, and actually can get the basics done.

Do you support stronger governmental transparency from city officials?

I think the only way to govern is through transparency and accountability. Both depend on one another, and that’s the sort of mayor I want to be – hands-on, disciplined and transparent. I want people to see me, but also know I am accountable to them.

That every day when I wake up in the morning, I have the best interests of Richmond on my mind. And when I go to bed at night, I’ll be thinking the same thing.

Lawrence Williams: architect


Why should Richmond vote for you?

I represent the city better than other candidates, because I come from neighborhoods that are the toughest in Richmond. I think I can be a more empathetic mayor when it comes to some of the issues that are really pressing in the city. And also, I’m a product of Richmond public schools, and I know what it means to be a minority in a public school system, but I was still able to go from John Marshall, to the University of Virginia, to Harvard University. So I think I’d be a good role model for Richmond kids as well.  

What unique experience would you bring to the role of mayor?

As a professional, I see the city from a different perspective, understanding the intricacies of the city in terms of what it takes to make Richmond run. I have served on several advisory boards, and dealt with the city budget.

What positive changes would Richmond see under your tenure?

Quite a few. I’m going to focus on building two new schools. I think what Richmond needs and what a lot of people are asking for are two new middle schools, one on the south side of the river and one on the north side of the river.

Our elementary schools are important, but as kids get older they can be shaped better in the middle schools.

A mayor sets the culture of a city, and they have to be someone the people can trust. I don’t think someone like Jack Berry or Michelle Mosby can pull together an entire city like I can.

Do you support stronger governmental transparency from city officials?

Yes. A few years back I worked with Robert Bobb, and we had a nine-member advisory board that was actually a citizen advisory board on strategic planning. Not just budgeting and bean-counting, but strategic planning over five-year increments.

A lot of the people downtown now say they don’t like preparing their budgets in one-year cycles. The operating budget as well as the capital budget is a two-year overlap, but we need a five-year overlap. Strategic planning is critical, and the citizens would have the greatest input on that.

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