October 22, 2008 News & Features » Cover Story


Mayoral Matchmaker 

They all promise big things, but who can satisfy your needs? Take our dating quiz before pulling the curtain.

click to enlarge cover43_matchmaker_0.jpg

Sometimes it's hard to tell if a man is interested, but that's not the problem in the five-way courtship of Richmond's mayoral votes. Our prospective love matches have gussied themselves up in their best suits and least-offensive ties. They've prowled the streets late into the night, called persistently, sent out e-mails and tried to get attention tucking notes into the front door. But do you know which mayor is the best man for job? Neither do we. To make things easier, try the Style Weekly mayoral dating quiz (answers pulled mostly from mayoral debates sponsored by Style). Circle the answer that best reflects your preferences then use our assessment key to find out which mayor is right for you. Remember, once you pick him, you can't evict him in the middle of the night with a fleet of moving vans, even if he can't remember to put his dirty socks in the hamper.

What pre-election profession best suits your ideal mayor match?
a. Lawyer, political consultant
b. Lawyer, government relations and alternative dispute resolution specialist
c. Preacher, delegate in Virginia General Assembly
d. Lawyer, city council president
e. Architect

Nothing's sexier than promises to improve city service delivery. Which sweet nothing would your ideal mayor whisper in your ear?
a. “In 2005, they didn't even have a machine that could fix a pothole. I got them three figuring they could get one of them working. I'm not sure they have.”
b. “We can change City Hall from a city of red tape to a city that rolls out the red carpet.” 
c. “We need to incorporate a retail concept of service delivery. The concept that says, “The customer is right.'”
d. “What we've got to do is have a mayor who cares.”
e. “Maybe even each council person has a dump truck and a cherry picker at their disposal and can use that at their discretion. … cleaning up neighborhoods fast: that gets votes.”
How does the right guy take his coffee?
a. None for me, thanks.
b. Cream and sugar.
c. “It depends on if I'm dieting or not. Black if I'm dieting. One Splenda and powdered cream if I'm not.”
d. Black.
e. One cream, three sugars.

What best describes the ideal date arranged by the new mayor?
a. “Anywhere she wants to go.” Then an uplifting production of “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.” Ah, romance.
b. A magical visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts then dinner at Mama ‘Zu’s followed by a version of “Women of Manhattan,” starring himself.
c. The Tobacco Company restaurant, then catching Oprah Winfrey in a stage revival of “The Color Purple.”
d. No dinner for you, he's married. But he will make sure Bon Jovi shreds the new CenterStage performing-arts center.
e. “[A walk] across the pedestrian bridge over the river to the island, what island is that again? Then a restaurant in Shockoe Bottom, probably the Tobacco Company.” Then off to watch a play within a dinner — “where a person comes to the city to dine. ... and 15 people ... and, so there's no stage.” Think the 1960s, which is a time he thinks we need to get back to. Groovy.

Rounding the bases is important to any successful relationship. How would you want the new city boss to handle replacing the Richmond Braves?
a. “There's no baseball stadium downtown in the master plan and there'll be no baseball stadium when [this mayor] takes over downtown. …There'll be no Echo Harbor project either.”
b. “To get a new baseball team in this city is going to require private investment. … Whoever is going to pay for it ought not be limited by where we can put a stadium.”
c. “I believe that it's a necessity to have [Triple A] ball in the city of Richmond. …We should have professional ball. …the reality is with these teams, they're in the driver's seat. … We're going to have to incentivize a team in order to get one.”
d. “The Boulevard location is the only way to get the counties to play.”
e. “Here we go again. … One of the reasons that I ran was to make certain that we kept the initiative on other issues.” In other words, no baseball.

Might as well start thinking about the future and the pitter-patter of little mayor feet. Can we fix Richmond Schools by incorporating specialized charter schools?
“I'm the only candidate up here who actually stood out there and worked with the parents. The fact of the matter is, I have a record of doing things and that's why I sat with those parents and that's why [we should] have a charter school.”
b. “I think the charter school is an idea whose time has come. I think what we've got to do is make sure the charter school is successful. … then let's take the best of what that charter school does and put it in the public schools.”
c. “We're going to have charter schools and it's important for us not to fight the feeling. What we need to do now is think outside the box.”
d. “I think that lost in the conversation over charter schools is what's underlying the issue, and that is parents having confidence or not having confidence in the public schools. I believe in giving options.”
e. “If it takes a charter school to stabilize a neighborhood. … The neighborhood comes first.”

Charter schools are good for keeping middle-income families in Richmond. But what about the existing public schools? How would the ideal mayor fix them?
a. “One thing we could do legally if you want to think outside the box, is we could create two school districts in the city of Richmond. We could create one district. … that would be extremely innovative.”
b. “We now have vacant lots at Dove Court and Carrington Gardens. Wouldn't it be fascinating if we could build those into subsidized and moderate housing, but put into the center of that education as a part of building the community that then abuts to Highland Park?”
c. “The only thing that's left for us to do is to build the best educational system in the city of Richmond that's possible. It's done by engaging the business community in Richmond that has so much to gain and so much to lose.”
d. “I think what we have to do is strengthen our school systems not just so they meet the [same standards] in the counties. … Wouldn't it be something if we had parents moving into Richmond to take advantage of a math-science magnet school? We have a business community here that is anxious to help.”
e. One of the reasons I ran is the City of the Future is a shotgun solution. … Sometimes you need to take a laser approach and make sure you get it correct.”

What is your view of the police chief selection process? Was it an arranged marriage?
a. Cut to the quick, fire the Segway-loving new chief and hire the previous interim chief, David McCoy, because the Police Department loves him.
b. Drawing on his experience, he would seek community input from the beginning. The people should be introduced to all of our potential chiefs.
c. Believes the people should be asked their opinion on what an ideal candidate might look like — and then lets those in charge search for the right chief. On second thought, perhaps people should know the candidates before making a final selection.
d. Heck, the people shouldn't just help select the chief. Let's get the people's input on all our top officials in an open and inclusive process allowing citizens to get to know each before selections are made.
e. Look to leaders in the business and corporate community, who reflect the needs of the whole community. Ask their advice before making his final selection.

What do you think about my ex-mayor, Doug Wilder?
a. “[Wilder] and his fiscal team have created the worst budget and fiscal mess in the recent history of Richmond, they make [former city manager Calvin] Jamison and crew look competent.”
b. “I had told [Wilder] that … a lot of people had been asking me to consider [running for mayor]. He said, ‘It might be a good idea for you to do it, but it’s your decision, and you need to think about it.' And I didn't ask for his support, and he didn't offer it.”
c. “Mayor Wilder's insistence that his budget — which does not provide a much-needed cut to the real estate tax rate and keeps increasing administrative costs in the mayor's office — continues to show Mayor Wilder's unwillingness to put the greater good of the city above all else.”
d. “While [Wilder] was taking steps to evict the School Board from City Hall, I was having detailed discussions with School Board members and the superintendent about making changes to the way they were doing business and reforming the schools procurement process.”
e. “Some people say [Eugene] Trani was the mayor.”

Backrubs, attentive listening, flowers for no reason — everyone loves those goodies. What makes you as new chief executive different?
a. I made the elected mayor possible!
b. Professionalism and professional bridge building.
c. A man of the people, he will bring unity to a people long divided.
d. No idea is too big. Think big!
e. An urban mayor with an artistic mind.

Every man has a past and sometimes uncomfortable chapters come back. How should the new mayor handle public housing?
a. “This is going to be a real test of our community.”
b. “We've condemned Dove Court and Carrington [Gardens] and it's a great time to see what we can do before Gilpin gets slated for demolition. … what we do is ask the developers to work to create a neighborhood, not just create some buildings.”
c. “The concentration of poverty is absolutely immoral and unacceptable. … If we want a road map of how to do this we will not follow the road map of Blackwell. We cannot move ghettos from one place and put them up in another place. We need to have persons of every economic strata living in every community.”
d. “This city is plagued by playing small ball. … What if … we took the land that the city owns from the interstate all the way back to the railroad tracks behind Gilpin Court and really do the planned-unit development that we need and absorb these residents. Displacement will occur ‘over my dead body.’”
e. “New housing in Shockoe Bottom will never work. A new greenway and park system gives value to the hilltops above and those hilltops will be homes to the people we're so desperately trying to work with.”

Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University are total frenemies. How do you want your mayor to handle that?
a. “VCU and Richmond are joined at the hip. We shouldn't have let [Wilder] teach at VCU.”
b. “We ought to encourage VCU to develop on some of the property it currently holds that it hasn't developed on. … We have had some tension. … We ought to encourage and demand that the university restore historical buildings. … VCU's been a good partner, it can be a great partner going forward.”
c. “All of us are better off for VCU's expansion. That being said, when I read that the West Hospital is being torn down … I have concerns. … There will come a time when the university has to consider satellite campuses.”
d. “We need VCU, we need VCU to continue to grow. … If the city and VCU are partners, then we need a partnership agreement.”
e. “You can see that VCU's done some great things, and then you get to other parts of Broad Street and you say, ‘What were they thinking?’”

Wheels say a lot about a man, but regional transportation is still limited, and GRTC is scaling back routes. When's the last time you rode the bus before the campaign?
a. “Several years ago to learn more about GRTC some officials and myself rode around looking at the system.”
b. “The last time I rode the bus was when I had two jobs. I was teaching at VCU and I started my law practice.”
c. “I can't remember the last time I was on GRTC.”
d. “My car was towed … and I needed to take the bus home so I went on the [GRTC] Web site. They showed me 17 alternatives for how to [travel] 1.7 miles. … Finally I figured it out and it took me almost two hours to get home.”
e. “I live in Church Hill and it's close to downtown and two or three days a week, I'll take the bus. It just makes sense to me. Sometimes, it's amazing to leave a car behind — all of this weight — and just walk.”  S

If Your Answers Were:

Mostly As:

Paul Goldman
Big things come in small packages — so open his constant stream of e-mails and you'll find an innovative thinker, an ideas man with an answer for everything. Paul loves eating healthy, taking long strolls and long hours on the phone talking politics. Favorite book? Paul suggests “When Hell Froze Over,” the story of L. Douglas Wilder's history-making campaign to become lieutenant governor (Paul's mentioned in it).  Favorite political essay, legislative act or public policy platform? Anything he wrote — which is a lot! It includes everything from the city's first charter school contract to Wilder's abandoned City of the Future plan to Mark Warner's fiscal policy. He may look a little rumpled and ruffled around the edges, but this guy's smart — scary smart.

Mostly Bs:

Robert J. Grey Jr.
He's struggled to slough off that label as Wilder's heir apparent — not to mention that letter he signed calling for an appointed School Board, which meant taking away voters' rights to elect their School Board members. He's cozy with the business elites, some even say he's in their pocket and likes dining at the Commonwealth Club. He's a respected lawyer though, former president of the American Bar Association. Grey just wants love, and he wants to spread that love, too. He's a self-proclaimed bridge builder who is familiar with both sides of the river. Tall, suave and debonair with silent screen star looks. He's also the guy who promises to bring the City Hall politicians in line with his corporate background and professional attitude.

Mostly Cs:

Dwight C. Jones
With two titles before his name, the Reverend and Delegate brings decades of leadership experience from his time in the pulpit as head minister of First Baptist Church of South Richmond and the General Assembly. His social-justice focus means he'll spread the love by trying to take care of your children and meeting your senior-citizen parents. When he's not doing that, he'll looking out for ways to help the poor. Not that he's too strait-laced for any fun. He wants a state-of-the-art baseball stadium to lure teams, and when he's feeling frisky, this martini-sipping mayor also prefers livin'-on-the-edge chemical coffee — Splenda and nondairy creamer, please.

Mostly Ds

William J. “Bill” Pantele
Let's face it, nerd is the new sexy. A self-described policy wonk, Pantele is downright dreamy if your thing is long evenings talking line items from the city's Fiscal Year 2008-2009 budget over Chinese takeout. But don't think he's one to push up his glasses and take it when bullies come kicking sand. As City Council president during the most turbulent period of the Wilder administration, Pantele served as the strong arm of reason as Wilder attempted to buck the city charter. He believes in baseball on the Boulevard, apple pie and charter schools. And he sings a mean Bon Jovi on karaoke night, too!

Mostly Es

Lawrence E. Williams Sr.
This candidate promises to bring an artistic temperament to City Hall, but no simple answers from this deep thinker! A Harvard-trained architect, he figures that rehabilitating the hilltop neighborhoods from north of Interstate 95 to Church Hill is key, and three new middle schools with built-in social service centers will solve a host of city problems. On the stump, Williams has reminisced about the togetherness brought by music from the 1960s and wants to get the city back to that groovy, cosmic togetherness. Maybe a Yoko Ono-style happening like a stageless play will get everybody in the right mind-set.











Latest in Cover Story


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Amy Biegelsen and Chris Dovi

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Palms on the Potomac

    Palms on the Potomac

    Our day trip series heads to charming Colonial Beach, a relaxed small town featuring the second-longest beach in Virginia.
    • Sep 7, 2021
  • Co-working Co-conspirators

    Co-working Co-conspirators

    Richmond’s first Black- and queer-owned co-working space is open for business.
    • Aug 31, 2021
  • Deciding Factors

    Deciding Factors

    A close governor’s race between two wealthy Virginia businessmen could set the tone for broader national elections, but this time it’s not business as usual.
    • Aug 24, 2021
  • Fall Arts Preview

    Fall Arts Preview

    • Aug 31, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation