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How Richmond has changed since the 2008 mayoral race

Posted at 12:42 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 13:38:58-04

RICHMOND, Va. – The billboard top song was about a shawty wearing Apple Bottom jeans and boots with the fur.

The year was 2008, and in terms of low, low, low, Richmond’s murder rate hit a number the city hasn’t seen since, with just 32 homicides reported (revised from 36).

Eight years ago, Richmond also had fewer farmers’ markets, award-winning restaurants, breweries, festivals, rooftop bars, murals, tourists and residents. The city population is now outpacing the surrounding counties and has hit a high not seen since at least 1981; census data from 2015 shows 220,289 residents, a 7.9-percent increase since 2010.

Filed under things we didn’t have at the time: the Scott’s Addition we know today, a legit farm to table movement, Hardywood, a newly remodeled VMFA, a Maggie Walker statue in the works, a Floyd Avenue Bicycle Corridor, a Bicycle Master Plan or a Pedestrian, Bicycling, and Trails coordinator, the Flying Squirrels, a VCU Final Four banner, neighborhood blogs — or six mayoral contestants (it was seven as of yesterday – respect, Jon Baliles).

And proving that some things don’t change, the city still has its historic, controversial monuments, the number of homeless, baseball is still on the Boulevard, Lawrence Williams is still running for mayor, candidate Joe Morrissey is still making headlines, racial inequality remains, and the schools and basic city services are still at the top of the list for needed improvements – and are also still the stuff of mayoral platforms.

Mayor Dwight Jones won the five districts need to win the RVA Mayor race, in 2008.

Mayor Dwight Jones won the five districts need to win the RVA Mayor race, in 2008.

The 2008 mayoral race was just the second time in modern history when Richmond voted for their mayor. There were just four candidates, lawyer Robert J. Grey Jr., architect Lawrence Williams Sr., Council President William J. Pantele, and current mayor Dwight Jones.

Education was still a hot topic.

“Our education system is really the way that we build neighborhoods,” Grey said. “We want to keep families in Richmond.”

“The real thing I heard people say is we want to start moving forward,” Jones said. “We want our city to get on the right track.”

“It is clear that education is the number one thing on people’s minds,” Pantele said.

Archived records show Jones captured the 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th and 3rd districts to defeat Pantele, who won the 1st, 2nd and 4th.

In the popular vote, Jones defeated Pantele 34,513 to 29,143. Grey had 18,576 votes, and Williams 1,596 – a number which could conceivably – depending on the district — turn a tight election.

Listen to the candidates of 2008 had to say about Richmond’s needs in our Throwback Thursday video below:

So, from Flo Rida to Richmond, Virginia

Our past is just the floor
Since 2008 you know
RVA started to soar
We got moar, moar, moar, moar, moar, moar, moar, moar

You can see more Throwback Thursday videos here. 

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