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Richmond mayoral candidate Justin Griffin answers your questions

Posted at 9:15 AM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 21:44:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond mayoral candidate Justin Griffin joined CBS 6 News at 7 to answer questions from Bill Fitzgerald and voters via Facebook live.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The transcripts below were created by a computer program and reviewed by a human prior to publishing. Spelling, grammar, and content errors will be corrected when they are discovered.

CBS 6 News at 7 interview transcript:

Bill Fitzgerald
Election Day is fast approaching. It's time to meet the candidates. Tonight you'll meet the second of five people running for Richmond's mayor's office. Justin Griffin is joining me now to talk about his plans for the River City. Mr. Griffin, thanks for coming in.

Justin Griffin
Thanks for having me.

Bill Fitzgerald
So tell us, what is this election about?

Justin Griffin
To me, the reason I'm in this election is because I believe the people of Richmond deserve better. Every four years, we get the same promises from people running for mayor, but nothing happens. Nothing changes, and so I'm in this to get better schools, better roads, better city services.

Bill Fitzgerald
And so obviously, we're in the middle of the pandemic right now. How do you judge how the city has done with the COVID pandemic?

Justin Griffin
Yeah, so if you look at my website griffinformayor.com, I had a coronavirus action plan from the very beginning. It laid out point by point what I would be doing and so I think we were slow on the uptake to get things working and I think testing and yeah, testing and tracing, and I think the biggest thing, what we still need to be doing is focusing in on those who are most vulnerable. The elderly populations, those with compromised immune systems. Right from the beginning, I worked with my church to set up a delivery program for those that needed to be in quarantine and that the disease would affect more. So we need to be doing that working with community partners city wide.

Bill Fitzgerald
And so we're also hearing the right now the cases are trending up for the first time in this last week or so. What about the business end of things? As you know, the hospitality industry, especially restaurants, but small businesses across this area have been decimated as they have across the country of course. How do you bring them back online? As you mentioned before, streamlining the bureaucracy. Is that how you bring them back? What do we do for small business?

Justin Griffin
Yeah, so my day job is I'm a small business attorney. I've worked with over 500 small businesses all over Virginia. I'm not a politician so I'm here to try and help and to serve the people of Richmond. Small businesses, in particular like you said, have been hit hard so what we need to be doing is first restoring confidence in the safety of living and doing business in Richmond and then we need to make the city more competitive with our neighbors. Right now, it is nearly impossible to get permits and inspections to do any kind of business with City Hall and our business license taxes are higher than the surrounding counties so we need to lower those and actually make it so that you can work with City Hall so we can bring businesses back, jobs and opportunities into the city.

Bill Fitzgerald
And you also are a vocal opponent of the Navy Hill development project, early on, and you question the mayor's numbers. For example, how many jobs and how much revenue would bring in? What was, what were the big issues with that project? It was a 1.5 billion project. Obviously it was huge.

Justin Griffin
Right, so for me, like I said, I'm a small business attorney, dealing with numbers all the time. Also have a background in accounting so when I looked at the financial projections, I said "Wait a second. This doesn't say what they say it says, and where it does say what they say it says, these projections are ridiculous." You know, they were projecting more annual non tenant attendance then Charlotte, Raleigh, Charlottesville and Baltimore combined, and so let's have an honest conversation. Let's stop trying to pull one over on the city to build a resume so that you can run for higher office, and I think that separates me from everyone else in this race is that I'm in this to serve the people of Richmond, to actually do the job of mayor, to get the city working for the people and getting our tax dollars put to efficient use for a change.

Bill Fitzgerald
Social unrest. We saw the summer all summer long in the wake of the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day. Minneapolis marches, protests. Do you believe that racial injustice is a major issue in Richmond?

Justin Griffin
When we look at inequality or racial injustice, particularly in the city of Richmond, we've got to look at the root cause issues of those inequalities, and for me, the biggest cause of that, that we are suffering with is a failing school system. In the last four years, our graduation rates have gone from 80 percent to 70 percent. In a school system, that's 86 percent people of color and so we're failing those kids and that's what's perpetuating things like the cycle of poverty and the racial wealth gap so that's why I have a comprehensive plan for the school system to completely change the way that we think about public schooling here in Richmond so that we can start uplifting people and moving us forward as a city.

Bill Fitzgerald
And policing. That's another aspect of some of the process that we saw protests against police brutality. Does Richmond have a policing problem and do you believe that there's certain reforms that need to be made?

Justin Griffin
Yeah I don't think that we necessarily have a strong police brutality problem here in Richmond. Obviously nobody's perfect. The vast vast majority of police officers are in it for the right reasons. They want to protect. They want to serve so let's work with our officers instead of demonizing all of them to try and make our community safe. I've been out talking to people in all neighborhoods here in Richmond, and particularly in the high crime areas we've seen 22 deaths in the last two months. We've had 65 homicides in the last year and to put that in perspective, we've had 62 COVID deaths so we need to talk to the people in those neighborhoods. They want more police presence. They want safe neighborhoods because that's what everybody in this city deserves.

Bill Fitzgerald
Alright. Sadly we are out of time on this part of our interview with Justin Griffin, candidate for Richmond Mayor. We're going to be joining him again at the bottom of the hour at 7:30 on Facebook, so if you have questions, please post them on our CBS6 Facebook page as we continue the discussion at 7:30 with Justin Griffin. Thanks for coming in and we'll see you in a moment.

Bill Fitzgerald
Good evening and welcome to our CBS 6 Facebook live edition with the Richmond mayoral candidates. Tonight we have the second of the five candidates, Justin Griffin. Thank you for joining us tonight.

Justin Griffin
Thank you.

Bill Fitzgerald
It's great to have you here, and we're here basically to answer your questions so I'll be chatting and Candace [Burns] is here in the studio. She and I will be chatting with Justin Griffin here tonight but we definitely want to hear what you have to say. Candace will be finding your questions on Facebook and we'll be talking about all of that and more so hopefully every stone is turned over and we can examine exactly what you want to do for the city of Richmond. So, without much further ado, let's, we were talking earlier. One of the major issues you said was schools and that you've got a detailed plan to do something about Richmond schools because you pointed to that as the source of a lot of social ills. Some of the unrest we saw this summer, you said, could be traced back to this failing school system, that we're failing our children.

Justin Griffin
Yeah, absolutely. Like I said earlier, 80 percent graduation rate 2016. 70 percent in 2019. Obviously what's going on in the Richmond public school system isn't working, and so I've laid out a three step plan. The first step is to fix the school buildings. Right now, our buildings are full of back maintenance. They're falling apart. They've had to close some down. There's rats. There just there needs to be a modernization.

Bill Fitzgerald
So is that a money issue though? Right off the top? Because everybody would say "Hey I don't want failing schools. Let's fix them, so you've got to massage both the current operational budget, and then there's the capital budget for the new buildings. How does that work?

Justin Griffin
The building maintenance part, I think, you know, there obviously, is a money problem there and it's really a priorities problem. I say, here in Richmond, we don't have a revenue problem. We have problems with mismanagement and misplaced priorities, so to fix the buildings is obviously going to take a little bit of cash, but, you know, a few years ago, the people of Richmond put forth a vote of over 80 percent saying "Hey, we want to have fully funded school modernization plan from the mayor without raising taxes." What we got from Mayor Stoney was a two page nonbinding memo and the numbers weren't even right, and so what I'm going to do is go to each building. We're going to do that fully funded modernization proposal, but just fixing the buildings isn't gonna get us where we want to go. We've got to fix the quality of the education on the inside of the building so that starts step two. Step two is to rework our curriculum to have a student centered academic approach. It can't be all about standardized tests and SOLs. We have to,

Bill Fitzgerald
But is that, that's a state mandate as well, though, right? So you're saying still they're taking the SOLs, but we shouldn't focus on it quite like we do teaching to the test?

Justin Griffin
Right, right. We need to have within that student centered academic approach, We're looking at a focus on literacy first, greater teacher autonomy and high expectations for our kids. For example, in the high expectations thing, I've been knocking on doors talking to people over town. I ran into somebody who worked in the public school system and she said at one point she worked up the courage to ask a teacher why they never gave any homework. The teacher just said "Ah, that'll just bring down their grades." That's the expectations that we have for our kids in the school. I want high expectations to push them.

Bill Fitzgerald
Well, I have a child in the Richmond public school system and I can attest that that doesn't necessarily jive with what I've seen so far.

Justin Griffin
It's obviously not everybody, but we need to make sure that we're pushing our kids, that we're challenging them because I believe children will rise to the expectations that you set for them. And step three is we need to have a more holistic approach to our education system. We need to make a renewed focus into providing life skills, financial skills, job skills, connecting with robust mentorship programs. Small business guy, myself, I would love to be involved in some kind of internship program with kids, and so connecting with small businesses and other businesses here in Richmond to provide kids. Getting back to what you're pointing at that brought up the schools, the disparities and the inequalities that we see, you know, the idea is to give our kids opportunities and hope that they might not normally have so giving them those connections is a way that we can help try and move things forward.

Bill Fitzgerald
And links to that social unrest, clearly, police brutality was what brought a lot of people out into the streets that witnessing, the seeing the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We talked earlier. We don't necessarily, you say, have a policing problem in Richmond. Perhaps not like we've seen in some other cities. You say that reforms such as it is is not necessarily the cure or the solution that we should be looking for.

Justin Griffin
Right. I'm not, I don't believe in defunding the police I guess is what we're looking at here because right now if you look at the Richmond Police budget, 91 percent of the money coming from the general fund into the police department is on personnel, and so if you drastically and arbitrarily cut the Richmond Police budget, that means fewer officers or drastically cutting their salaries and our salaries for police officers are already lower than the surrounding counties and the state police and we want the best officers. You know, my job, if I'm elected mayor is to go in and set a standard and then oversee all city operations, including the police department to make sure that we meet that standard. Right now we have a culture of excuse making across the board here in Richmond and I love Richmond. I want to see the quality of city government match the quality of our people, and so whether it's policing or anything else, I'm going to, I want to be the person holding them accountable. We're going to set a high standard but the end goal is to make all of our neighborhoods safe and having fewer officers or drastically cutting their pay isn't going to get where we want to go. Obviously, nobody's perfect. My wife is also an attorney. She spent some time working for the public defender office here in Richmond and so I know that not all officers are perfect so we do need to come up with more creative ways for allowing people to make complaints and to review these and make the mayor, who ultimately oversees the police department aware of certain things happening, to hold them accountable but a holistic defunding of the police is not something that I would be,

Bill Fitzgerald
And so therefore, some of the issues involved with that, namely changing qualified immunity or the citizens review board, complaint review board. You're saying those are not as significant as, say, bolstering what we have, making the connections between the police and the communities, right? Community policing a lot of people talk about, we want to see the cops in our neighborhoods, we want to see the kids doing activities and things with police. You're saying that's more significant than some of the reforms that we've heard about?

Justin Griffin
Absolutely. We need to have the police building relationships. A few weeks ago, I'd held an event in Gilpin Court and I talked to, had the privilege of talking to many people there and every single one of them told me their number one issue is do something about the shootings. We need more police presence. We do want to see the police get out of their cars, be more part of the community because when you do that you learn from the people in the community. That's the sign of a good leader, in my opinion, is somebody who's willing to listen. You might know what's going on in your neighborhood. You might know what's going on in front of you and particularly, if you're somebody that's as busy as a mayor should be, then you're not going to have time to do that so you've got to make the time to go out and talk to the people in the community because they're the ones that know what needs to be done and I've seen that talking to people while out knocking on doors that, you know, they say "Hey, I've got drug deals that happen in front of my house, or I have to sit with my daughter at the bus stop in the car because it's not safe for her to be out there alone" and so we need to address that, make all our communities safe, and some of the reforms can help us get there like I would be in favor of putting more money into social services, bringing back, there used to be a program called the Second Responders Program, which were social workers embedded in precincts and they would respond on calls such as domestic violence and they would work with the victims, get them plugged into services, do some counseling, and let the police and the detectives focus on what they do best and so there are some room there.

Bill Fitzgerald
All right. I want to bring in Candace and see what some of the folks on Facebook are saying.

Candace Burns
Thanks, Bill. We do have some questions sticking to the topic that you all are on now. Vincent Bruno wants to know your plans for Monument Avenue. We talked about the protests that happened this summer and the unrest and police reform. What do you see happening to Monument Avenue?

Justin Griffin
Yeah, so I've had a plan for a while now of what I think we should do with Monument Avenue and I would like to see it turned into an open air museum. A timeline of the history of Richmond, and so you know, the beautiful grass medians in the middle of monument Avenue. You start before Europeans ever came, you tell what history we know of the native people that were in the region, and you start making your way through history and as you hit prominent figures, you can have a life size statue right there in the median. You can take a selfie with Chief Powhatan or James Armstead Lafayette, who was a slave during the Revolutionary War spy for the colonial army, and then took the name Lafayette after the French General Marquis de Lafayette. You can go through time and you can learn about the history and the significance that Richmond played in our country, and as we get towards the end, I would like to see new monuments capped off to Oliver Hill for his work in the desegregation of schools and then final monument to Douglas Wilder because he was the first elected black governor in the country. To me, Richmond needs to be a city that tells stories and that's a story that can inspire and it shows who we were as Richmonders, our path that ultimately got us to where we are today and start bringing people together and inspire and educate and keep the historic nature of Monument Avenue to help bring in still the tourism dollars and to keep our history alive here in Richmond.

Bill Fitzgerald
Is there a follow up to that Candace?

Candace Burns
There is. As you mentioned bringing our city together, Janelle, Janine wants to know how you would have handled the recent unrest in the city. Would you have done anything different compared to the current administration?

Bill Fitzgerald
So you're critical of Levar Stoney in that regard, saying he failed and you saw him being permissive towards acts of vandalism.

Justin Griffin
Right and so what we saw, in my opinion, is somebody waving in the wind like a politician because, like I said, when we were on the main broadcast, I'm not a politician. I'm in this because I love Richmond and I want to see our government do better for our people. We pay higher taxes than the surrounding counties and get less in return. And that's because we keep electing politicians who were more focused on their career than doing the right thing, and there's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things and you can't allow bad actors to harm and harass innocent people in businesses. It's just, it's not right and we need somebody who's going to be strong and stand up for that because on the backside of that, it also stole the narrative. We haven't had real conversations about policing in Richmond or what we can do better or how we can better serve and get to the root causes of inequality. We've been talking about whether it's okay to smash up a Whole Foods or not, and so we need somebody who's going to be strong. I would have been, I would have put in the curfew and it would have been strictly and consistently enforced because we can't allow the bad actors to harm our city, to take us backwards. We've made a lot of progress here in Richmond in the last 20 years but you know I've been having conversations with people all the time about,

Bill Fitzgerald
The people who are reluctant now to open a businesses in downtown areas?

Justin Griffin
Yeah, I've had conversations with business owners who say "I'm done. I slept in my business for 17 nights straight running off would be looters at 3:00 am. Come January when business license taxes are due, I'm out of here because I'm not giving the city of Richmond another dollar" and so that's why I say number one priority is reestablish confidence in the safety to live and work in Richmond so that we can create this upward spiral where we're bringing in economic activity, bringing in jobs and opportunities that we can then use that tax revenue to invest in our schools in our neighborhoods because once we have a mayor who actually puts our schools in our neighborhoods as the number one priority, we need to have as much as we can to start uplifting people. What we're seeing with the people losing confidence in the city is it's going to create a downward spiral where investment and people and businesses leave, and we're not going to have the money to invest in schools or invest in social programs to help our police department and so I want to keep us moving forward on the progress that we've made instead of taking steps backwards.

Bill Fitzgerald
How about development? You were one of the first or one of the most vocal opponents of the Navy Hill development. We talked a little bit about that earlier. Is development a big development project? And this one was 1.5 billion. Is a large development project going to be problematic, in your view, i.e. keep everything small, or is it just the way this particular project was handled? The way the mayor managed it?

Justin Griffin
Yeah, it wasn't handled right and it wasn't a good deal for Richmond was my biggest thing about it. These financial projections, like I said, were absolutely ridiculous. They weren't going to hit and it was putting way too many tax dollars at risk. They were trying to say "This is a no risk project. This is a no risk project" but,

Bill Fitzgerald
They're not gonna be footing the bill if it all goes south,

Justin Griffin
Yeah and so that wasn't true because it was this tenth district that committed all of the tax revenue growth from downtown to pay for this arena. Six hundred million dollars over 30 years and what would be happening right now. We'd be building an arena when arenas are essentially illegal and so we wouldn't have new tax revenue, right? So there was huge amounts of risk. They weren't willing to have honest conversations. My job, if I'm elected mayor, is going to be to set, first, the goals. What are we trying to accomplish? With any kind of development or if they're selling city property, whatever we're doing in the city, we need to figure out what we're trying to do and then is that the most effective and efficient way to accomplish those goals. In my opinion, committing hundreds of millions of dollars to arenas and big, shiny projects. We've seen how it works out here in Richmond. They always blow up in our face. These "get rich quick" schemes that are only designed to help the politicians and not the city. We need to refocus our priorities. Better schools, better roads, better city services.

Bill Fitzgerald
That's right, and you enumerate pretty much all of those on your website, as I saw. But first, I want to check in again with Candace.

Candace Burns
Well, another important question on the minds of a lot of people in Richmond. How would you handle the current pandemic if you were mayor?

Bill Fitzgerald
We talked about that earlier but we have not talked about it here. You had said initially that it took Richmond quite a while, as it took a lot of people because there was no real, you might argue there was a blueprint somewhere for a pandemic, but at any rate, it was now there's no action plan ready to go. What could Richmond have done better and what kind of a grade do you give Richmond?

Justin Griffin
Yeah, I would say when we look at it, you know, there were blueprints out there. There were things from the CDC and the federal government that you could use to craft an action plan. I have a coronavirus action plan that I published back in April. You know, six or seven pages of bullet points. This is what we need to do so that we can get through this as fast as possible and get back to normal life and we saw delay was, you know, weeks before they even picked a hospital overflow site, and the worry at the beginning is that our hospitals were going to be overwhelmed. If that's the number one worry, let's have some urgency, right? We see with everything here in the city, we talk about all of these problems, but the people in charge would never have any urgency. I mean our school system couldn't even provide transcripts for kids that were graduating last year and there was no urgency to get that problem solved there, like "Ah, we'll have it done by February" and then came June when kids were graduating. They're like "Hey, I need a transcript to give to college." They didn't have one. It's ridiculous. It's not serving our people right so the same thing goes with Coronavirus. There was delay, there was a lot of political posturing but what we need to be looking at now is what do we do now? What do we do going forward?

Bill Fitzgerald
Especially if there's a second wave like many expect, and it seems, as we talked about earlier, that the cases are rising now in the Richmond area at any rate relative to others in the state?

Justin Griffin
Yeah so, to me, the biggest, the two top things that we need to do right now that we should have done from the beginning. I mentioned one on the air, talking about having, working with community partners, to have delivery programs and systems in place to help those that are the most vulnerable, because we've seen, I think it's 52 of our 62 deaths are people over the age of 60. I think 42 of 62 were over 70 years old so helping those populations having a more focused approach to, you know, locking down or quarantine, giving those people the option but helping them do that because, you know, people still going out to the grocery store in crowds, because they still need food and those things. That doesn't really help us, right?

Bill Fitzgerald
You agree with the restrictions that are in place? The masking, the social distancing, the 50 percent occupancy in restaurants, or would you have relaxed those or was it all contingent on testing more in contact tracing better? And you would have by now lifted them?

Justin Griffin
Yeah, I think had we been doing everything we need to do from the beginning, we could more easily lift all those restrictions at this point, because we could have a more focused approach, and the biggest problem is that we haven't had clear metrics, right? What goal are we trying to reach at this point? First, it was flatten the curve. Now it's I don't know,

Bill Fitzgerald
And positivity rate for a while,

Justin Griffin
Right and then positivity rate, I posted a video this, you know, months ago how positivity rates aren't the right metric to be looking at because it all depends. You could test 100 people today and there only be one and then you could test 500 tomorrow and there could be 100 people and so your numbers are going to be all over the place. We need to be looking at hospitalizations, how many beds are open. I think VCU has over 700 acute care beds and we've only had a little over 400 hospitalizations in Richmond total, and so obviously our hospitals aren't overwhelmed and so we need to be looking at hospitalizations. We need to be looking at deaths. Those are the important figures because the goal from the beginning, make sure that our hospitals aren't overwhelmed and also to limit the number of deaths but we're not looking at those, you know. Cases alone aren't necessarily telling us a whole lot. It could be a lot of young people who are asymptomatic. You know obviously you still want to keep cases low but what's the end game here so that we can also signal that to our people. We can signal that to our small business owners to know what to expect and to prepare for it, and so that's the approach that I would be taking.

Candace Burns
Well here at CBS 6, we have Problem Solvers. We get a lot of calls in from the community with people who live in public housing. Lots of issues in public housing. Do you have any plans to help that area of Richmond?

Bill Fitzgerald
That is really one of the devilish issues in any major city is what to do with public housing when you concentrate poverty, essentially. How do you deal with that? It's a long term, there are a lot of moving parts. You got federal partners. What would you do about that?

Justin Griffin
Yeah, because obviously there's RRHA, which is a separate board and a separate entity. We've got a lot of different boards here.

Bill Fitzgerald
Who would be accountable for this,

Justin Griffin
Yes. And they're, ultimately they're accountable to the city council, because that's who appoints them. How much oversight is there? You know, the problem that we have here is, you know, there's a lot of times that the mayor doesn't have direct control over things, but often mayors use that as an excuse. It's like "Ah, that's not our problem" but those people are Richmonders too and so whenever it's a Richmonder, whenever there's issues there, it's all hands on deck for me so let's step up and let's help however we can. One thing with public housing and it's very similar to the school system, actually. We talk a lot about the buildings, and just like with the school buildings, the public housing buildings are falling apart. They're old. I've seen it firsthand knocking on doors in those neighborhoods and obviously something needs to be done there but my focus is always going to be on the people. The same thing with my school's plan. That's why I said we have to have a first rate education on the inside of the school. So with public housing, let's focus on the people. Let's figure out how we can get them connected to programs. Let's get the kids in more robust afterschool programs. That's what the people in the community are telling me. They say "Bring back the league's. Get the kids involved. Let's have mentorship programs." How can we uplift people so that public housing isn't a permanent stop for generations, but it's just a temporary safety net for people so that they can get plugged into those programs, move them through the system to get back on their feet, to get moving forward to uplifting people and that's always going to be my focus if I'm elected mayor.

Candace Burns
A question relating to city improvements. Another one from Vincent Bruno. He's very active on Facebook right now. He wants to know if the sewage that's being released into the James River concerns you and if you have any plans to do anything about that.

Bill Fitzgerald
Part of the reason the water rates are so high in Richmond is, I believe, it's a federal consent decree that Richmond has to basically fix. Long term problem. Very costly. Hundreds of millions, maybe billions, and that every time there's a major storm, and I'm sure you've heard it seen up and down a rockets landing, there's an overflow. A discharge into the James, and when you describe it to anybody, they just can't believe that it's true, but it is true. It is what it is, as some say, and that's why the rates that people pay in Richmond are so high. What do you, what do you think about that? It's kind of an intractable problem, given that it is going to cost hundreds of millions of capital dollars.

Justin Griffin
Yeah, it's got to be a long term, comprehensive plan to get that done because the James River is something that I think we don't take nearly enough of the advantage of here in the city and so that's kind of the number one environmental thing that we need to address is the dumping of raw sewage into the James. Let's have a lot of stormwater problems in general here in the city. There's a lot of people whose homes that flood every time it rains, and we're paying stormwater management fees and neighborhoods that don't even have stormwater drainage and we got rid of the free leaf collection program and so now we're seeing leaves clog up some of the storm drainage that we do have and so I think we do need to bring back the free leaf collection program. We need to have an approach that actually brings these services to our neighborhood. It has a long term plan to not dump raw sewage into the James and to do that you're going to need somebody who is a financial watchdog. Somebody who has an accounting background. Somebody who is ready to go in there and root out all the ways. If you look at my social media, I've been posting example of wasted mismanagement. Every day, you'll see things like the City of Richmond not issuing 10-99s properly and having to pay $100,000 in IRS fines or permits and inspections not invoicing for elevator inspections for three years, losing at 100, that are a million dollars in revenue, paying a bunch of invoices more than once and the list goes on and on. So I want to go in, route out all of that waste, get our dollars focused on these neighborhood issues like storm drainage and our James River. Kind of my vision for Richmond is, we've got to take advantage of the things that we naturally have that other people don't, other cities don't. Why do people go visit all these other cities? Why do you go to Vegas? Casinos? Why do you go to Nashville? Country music? Why is Charlotte doing well? They made themselves the banking city outside of New York. Let's take advantage of what we have here. It's history. All types of history. Revolutionary War, Civil War, colonial era. We should be the center of Black history in the entire country. You should come to Richmond to learn everything there is to learn about Black history. Take advantage of those things, and so that we can create a niche for ourselves. The second one is the James River. Only class four rapids in an urban area in the entire country. That should be promoted. That should be utilized more as a city, and finally our arts and creative community here in Richmond. We have a robust marketing community. That's where we can kind of differentiate ourselves from a business perspective.

Bill Fitzgerald
Anything else remaining left, Candace?

Candace Burns
Last question. I think this is a good one to end with. On your website, you say Richmond deserves better. Can you explain to us why you would be the person that candidate to deliver better to the city?

Justin Griffin
So when I say that we deserve better, like I said, that's the reason why I'm running. I love Richmond and it's full of amazing people doing amazing things. Look at all the amazing small businesses. The amazing restaurants. The things that are putting us on the map are the people here in Richmond and that's the culture that is Richmond comes from our people. It's full of amazing people and and I see Richmond as a city. You know, if you've ever watched athletes train and they put the parachute on their back, and they're trying to run and the parachutes slowing them down, so it builds the muscles. Richmond is the person with the parachute on the back and the parachute is our city government. Everything about this city is amazing except for our city government and so when I say we deserve better, that's what I mean. We need to take that parachute off because I think we have limitless potential. If we can get our city government working for the people, stop wasting all our tax dollars, and what makes me the best person to do that. I'm not a politician. This isn't my career. I'm putting my career on hold to do this. It's not about me. It's about Richmond. It's about the city. I also have, like I said, an accounting background. I showed with the Navy Hill project that I'm able to break down complicated deals and get to the root cause, and what is the best deal for Richmond. You see it with everything that I'm posting on my social media, finding ways. I even wrote a few articles before I ever started to run where I found ways that other people hadn't, mismanagement, and so I think that differentiates me from everybody else in this race. Not a politician. Somebody who's going to actually be a financial watchdog to go in, get our money working for our people into our schools, into our neighborhoods so that we can move this city forward.

Bill Fitzgerald
All right. Justin Griffin, candidate for Richmond mayor. Thank you, sir, for coming in both on air and both right here on CBS6's Facebook page, and Candace, thank you for your help.

Candace Burns
Happy to do it. Thanks, Justin for coming in.

Bill Fitzgerald
And we'll be back, I guess sometime next week with our next edition but thank you all for watching and thank you especially for the questions and have a wonderful evening.

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🗳️Complete Local Coverage: Election 2020

Richmond Mayoral Race
Mayoral candidate Kim Gray
Mayoral candidate Justin Griffin
Mayoral candidate Tracey McLean
Mayoral candidate Alexsis Rodgers
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney

U.S. House - 7th District
Rep. Abigail Spanberger
Del. Nick Freitas

U.S. Senate
Sen. Mark Warner (D) and challenger Daniel Gade (R) take part in "The People's Debate"

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