RICHMOND, Va. — Unlike her competitors Jon Baliles and Bobby Junes, Richmond City Council President Michelle Mosby is still in the running to become Richmond’s mayor.
While far behind in the polls and in fundraising, Mosby has given no indication that she will drop out before Tuesday’s election — like Baliles and Junes.
In one of her latest Facebook messages, she urged volunteers to help at the polls on Election Day.
Mosby, who did not grant an interview for this story despite several requests, is still in the race to win it and to prevent current front runner Joe Morrissey from winning. Despite several no-shows over the last month at various candidate forums, Mosby has been very outspoken against Morrissey and ran a radio attack ad against him last month.
“Joe’s the 57-year-old boss who claimed innocence, but took an Alford plea for having sex with his employee — a 17-year-old black girl — then lied about it to keep himself out of jail,” the ad about Morrissey.
“Right now, when you look at these polls Joe Morrissey is winning in black communities. And I don’t know if our black communities are really understanding whether he’s really worked for us or he’s capitalized off of us,” Mosby said.
When confronted with Morrissey’s response that she was serving as “an attack dog” for other high polling candidates, Mosby simply responded in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “I am running for mayor because I think I would be the best mayor.”
But a mid-October poll conducted by Chamber RVA showed Mosby polling at four percent and leading in none of Richmond’s nine districts.
Mosby is the only female mayoral candidate in the race. She is also a small business owner who opened International Hair Salon on Forrest Hill Avenue with the help of her father. In addition, she is employed as a real estate agent at Exit First Realty.
Mosby also started a nonprofit “Help Me Help You Foundation.” Both her hair salon and nonprofit help formerly incarcerated individuals to reintegrate into their communities by offering employment and other assistance.
As the current city council president, Mosby’s political work also supports reintegration. Earlier this year, Mosby sponsored the Ban the Box legislation, which ended the policy requiring job seekers to reveal prior felony convictions early in the application process.
If elected mayor, Mosby said she planned to continue the advocacy and work she has already begun on the city council.
"I’m going to do more of what I’ve already done. I’m going to continue to fund schools, I’m going to continue to fight for those who are disadvantaged as I’ve passed legislation concerning homelessness, Ban the Box, and mass incarceration I’m going to push for economic development that brings money to our city for city needs,” Mosby said in a recently released SoundCloud ad.
During a Facebook Live chat with WTVR.com last month, Mosby shared her confidence in her abilities.
"I am the most qualified of all of them that are in this,” she said. Her position as city council president has been a dominant theme of her mayoral campaign, highlighting her leadership, familiarity with the council and the city.
Third district council member Chris Hilbert said that Mosby’s accessibility and compassion set her apart as a mayoral candidate.
"When there was a 12-year-old girl who was murdered in my district in December, and Michelle was there at the candlelight vigil and really showed some compassion and comfort to the young lady’s mother. It was really just a horrendous situation and I think for Michelle to come out of her district and show that leadership for that child … I appreciate what she’s done on that front," said Hilbert.
According to Mosby, her identity as a woman and her promise to be realistic and honest with Richmonders are qualities that set her apart from other candidates. Rather than inflating the situation the city faces, she is looking for more transparency and accountability at City Hall.
But others have questioned whether Mosby’s personal financial struggles are an indication of her ability to manage the city’s finances. Mosby has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy twice, once in 2002 and again in 2010, as WTVR.com reported. During an interview she shared that the first filing was after a divorce and the second after the financial markets crashed.
Despite these personal challenges, Mosby is confident that when she leaves office, the 26 percent poverty rate that Richmond currently faces will be reduced to below 20 percent. She cited her own experience relying on government assistance, as a reason that she can relate to those living in poverty.
“I’ve been on food stamps,” she said in the Facebook Live session, adding that the other candidates couldn’t understand poverty. For Richmonders hesitating to trust her to manage Richmond’s budget in light of her past financial struggles, Mosby suggested that voters take a “leap of faith.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: WTVR.com has partnered with the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project at VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students from the project reported this story. The class will profile each Richmond mayoral candidate in the coming days.