September 20, 2016 News & Features » Cover Story


Short and Sweet: Why I Want to Be Mayor of Richmond 

We asked the candidates to give you the pitch for why they should be mayor. Here’s what they wrote.

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Jon Baliles
“I have dedicated my life to making Richmond better.”

I’ve lived in Richmond all of my life, and have never seen a time like today when our future depends on the choice voters make this November for mayor. There is so much potential in our city now, but it’s not because of our current city government. It’s because of you.

Those of you who want to pitch in and help make Richmond better with the right leadership and direction. Those who’ve already started doing that in other aspects. I see that and appreciate your contribution.

A rising tide lifts all boats, but we need to remember that not everyone in Richmond is in the boat yet. There are many challenges we face that have existed for decades — such as underperforming schools, high levels of poverty, irresponsible economic development projects, and a local government without accountability. There’s also the need for better public safety and city services.

These are all difficult problems that can only be fixed with strong focus and commitment. I’m ready to make that commitment because I have dedicated my life to making Richmond better. I’ve been an outsider, seeing what’s wrong in this city and telling others about it for years on my RiverCityRapids blog.

Later, I’ve had the opportunity to learn how city government really operates administratively within Richmond’s planning department and legislatively on City Council. That knowledge will be needed to help Richmond rise above where we are today and bring everyone with us. Richmond can meet its potential if it has an independent leader with the outsider spirit and insider knowledge.

I know I am that leader because I can work with anyone, I listen to everyone, and I am beholden to no one.

That’s the type of leadership this city has been lacking in the past and needs now.

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Jack Berry
“I just want to make a difference in the city that I love.”

Richmond is on a roll. The city is alive with new energy, new people, new businesses, great food, music and arts. RVA has become a rallying cry for creativity and innovation that is being heard across the country.

Young people are being drawn to RVA because this is a place where they can make a difference and be part of a caring community. This is a great time to live in Richmond.

We’ve come such a long way, but the progress can stop just as quickly as it started, if we sit back and settle for a lame city government.

Everyone knows we have a city government that is not keeping up with the city. In fact, City Hall is broken and failing its citizens on many levels. The City seems incapable of providing basic neighborhood services. Getting a building permit, a business license or simply paying a bill can be an agonizing experience.

I am running for mayor to fix the dysfunction and mismanagement that is bleeding away the resources needed to pay for schools, basic services, public safety and initiatives to reduce poverty.

I am running because I have the experience and passion to build a high-performing city government, and because I know I can unite the community in support of our children.

I have 20 years of municipal government experience. I’ve led the organization that produced the Folk Festival and the RVA branding campaign. I am a proven leader who solves problems and seizes opportunities.

I am not a politician looking to move up the food chain. I just want to make a difference in the city that I love.

I am running to make RVA a magnet of opportunity for young people and families, and a more hopeful place for those who have been left behind.

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Bobby Junes
“Education, education, education.”

The reason I have decided to enter the City of Richmond mayoral race can best be described in the words: education, education, education. This reflects the main concern, position, opinion as well as desire of the majority of city residents I have had the pleasure of having open dialogue with.

First-part, be a bridge-builder between School Board and City Council, get everyone on the “same” agenda as opposed to a “similar” agenda. Utilize three clues/que’s to identify those students who will need additional resources.

Start by recognizing children who do not identify letters of the alphabet when starting kindergarten. Second, assessing students’ third-grade SOL reading skills level, acknowledging that this person most likely will have inferior comprehensive reading and understanding skills from this point forward. Third, assess the students’ eighth-grade math SOL scores as an indicator pertaining to the individual’s future success. Those with below-standard scores will require more time and attention.

Second-part, between state government and the metro Richmond area (Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield) obtain proper funding for high-risk or students living in impoverished areas. To personally lead any future school rally or protest for school funding at City Hall by walking one block across Broad Street to the State Capital.

Commonwealth of Virginia’s current 14 percent additional funding for at-risk (those living in poverty) students is well below the national level of 25 percent provided by other states. Time to face reality: Studies have well documented that at-risk students can be re-indoctrinated to become productive members of society. It takes additional input, as teachers/school systems are not only responsible for teaching rudimentary education (math, English, science) but must also deal with issues related to social acceptance type of orientation.

Third-part, ensure that the public’s voice, desire, choice and adamant wish that education be the top-rated agenda item carried out during my term as mayor.

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Joe Morrissey
“No other candidate has earned the trust of this invisible Richmond.”

Two distinctly different Richmonds live side-by-side:

• One is public and visible, the other is private and hidden; 

• One is largely white, the other is predominantly black;  
• One is successful, thriving and hopeful while the other is characterized by poverty, despair and hopelessness;

• One is safe at night while the other suffers from gunfire and violence;

• One sends its children to dynamic, secure private schools, while parents from the housing projects send their children to crumbling, unaccredited, 50-year-old schools.


I want to be mayor because no other voice has been lifted in the public square for those in the hidden, hungry and hopeless Richmond. No other candidate has earned the trust of this invisible Richmond. I have specific plans for employing men emerging from the Justice Center. My team will quickly audit the city’s finances and publish the results. We will publicly post our progress on paving the streets. We will accelerate the creation of the Diamond District and the railway station, bringing dozens of new jobs to those who most need them.  

In my administration we will:

• Expand the Mayor’s Youth Academy to employ 1,500 Richmond Public Schools students per summer;

• Enhance community policing to strengthen the bond between our public safety officers and the good people they protect;

• Expand the rapid transit system to include the Jefferson Davis Highway and Chamberlayne Avenue arteries;

• Sell blighted homes to contractors who make new homes available to low-income citizens;

• End foolish giveaways of public money on bike races and breweries and put those millions into our schools;

• Automate city services, saving time and money

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Michelle Mosby
“I am Richmond.”

I want to be mayor and a source of inspiration for young women who will come after me. I encounter so many little girls who are ecstatic to think I could be their mayor and that they too, could be mayor one day.

I know the ins and outs of city government. I am a native Richmonder, sitting council member and council president, a business owner, a mother of a millennial, the daughter of seniors, and a proven leader. I have been on public assistance and transitioned to the work force, to owning my own business of 15 years, becoming an associate broker and being the founder of a nonprofit.

I am Richmond. I have lived in places strict with association rules and great character like our historic district and have also lived in other areas without a lot of regulation or sense of organized community.

I am a careful decision-maker, able to hear all sides and make informed decisions. I have in under four years moved from being a council member where I garnered support to purchase a $1.2 million recreational facility for young people, built 40 new townhomes utilizing the affordable housing initiative, paved roads and started negotiations for even more South Side development to becoming council president, where I have led a council to reinstate career and step for public safety, give 2 percent raises to employees and $40 million over the mayor’s proposed budget for Richmond Public Schools. I have brought council, School Board, and the mayor together to find real solutions to our school facilities issues.

Some may see a particular candidate as the business candidate, others as the education candidate, some are hailed as being the people’s candidate. I embody the perfect balance of them all. If Richmond is honest in her thoughts concerning the best overall choice for mayor, then I say Mosby4RVAmayor!

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Levar Stoney
“Great cities do not accept more of the same.”

I want to be mayor because I know Richmond is on the rise. I could not sit on the sidelines when so much is at stake for our city. We need a fresh, new, dynamic leader who can harness our momentum. We cannot afford more of the same — the same people, the same characters, the same ideas with no new solutions.

That’s not the type of experience our city needs right now. We are a great city and great cities do not accept more of the same. Great cities think about what they are going to look like 30 years from now.

Currently, we are leaving our children behind and City Hall is holding us back. It’s time to start telling our children they matter by strengthening our public schools and investing in their education. It’s time to start telling our citizens they matter by providing them the best services possible. And it’s time to start telling our families they matter by making sure we’re providing them a safe place to work and live.

You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem. I want to be mayor because I know I have the executive experience and vision needed to be part of the solution. Richmond is truly at a crossroads, but we’re not going to get to the next level unless we transform city government and make sure we’re advocating on behalf of all Richmonders, not just a few.

I’m going to be a mayor who always makes sure those who lack a voice — those who have been forgotten — have a voice at the table. Because I firmly believe either you are at the table or you’re on the menu, and for far too long, Richmond has been on the menu.

I ask to be elected mayor because people in the hurting and hidden Richmond trust me to faithfully represent them and to move this city from words to action.

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Bruce Tyler
“To create a place where people want to live, work, learn and play.”

I am seeking this office so I can be a purposeful leader who will:

• Re-establish trust in our city government by having financial reports published on time and hiring qualified individuals in key management positions to lead our city.

• Maintain the current real estate tax rate and end wasteful spending starting with the elimination of the mayoral police detail as well as unnecessary administrative positions. This will allow for us to properly fund our schools’ capital requirements and meet our current funding requirements.

• Build a positive working relationship with City Council and School Board members. Together we will develop a strategic plan that will contain innovative solutions, such as K-8 schools instead of K-5 schools, a school-by-school academic improvement plan, and facility improvement plan. This will allow for us to have a road map that delineates a clear direction for our schools for the next four years. In turn, this will allow for us to build the best urban school system to serve our children.

• Collaborate with elected officials and administrators in the greater Richmond metropolitan area to address our metropolitan issues including transportation, The Diamond, and a new Coliseum. It is past time to address regional issues that impact our quality of life in our city.

• Create innovative new solutions for our city’s problems such as on-demand transit. This innovative solution will reduce pollution, increase ridership and minimize fuel consumption in off-peak hours.

• Increase economic development in our city by updating the outdated master plan and modifying zoning ordinances to allow for responsible growth in our city.

• Also, we must look to create the next generation of medical research by joining hands with Virginia Commonwealth University and the Commonwealth of Virginia to be one of the nation’s leaders in genome research in Richmond.

My vision for Richmond is to create a place where people want to live, work, learn and play.

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Lawrence Williams
“Our education system is a tale of two cities.”

Richmond needs professionals not politicians. “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” We have heard these words many times in the past. Politicians and parties have watered down Richmond’s true potential. Governments alone do not ensure success. Recognizing and enhancing the values of the population served leads to a world-class education system.

Our education system is a tale of two cities. The mayor, council and School Board are important. I submit that Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority is the fourth leg supporting the table on which government culture is written. 1960s schools were built surrounded by segregated housing.

I attended Richmond Public Schools, the University of Virginia and Harvard; now a registered architect, offering a new professionalism with actual real-world experience. Skills include 35 years serving city advisory boards, civic associations, community development corporations, churches and private sector commercial development.

Strategic planning committees will be the oil that helps the four pillars of our city to work together. I served for five years on Richmond Tomorrow Strategic Planning and Budget Committee, during the Walter Kenney and Robert Bobb administrations. Citizens with management, business and community ties held the city together successfully. Role models: Charlotte’s Gantt and Riley of Charleston.

Williams Blue Ribbon Citizen Review and Oversight Committees:

The mayor has to be a community vision facilitator, communicating concepts to staff and community. I will listen, reintegrating communities with branded middle schools surrounded by mixed amenity/income development enhancing the parenting experience.

We must increase the composite index, funding schools and demand 1-15 student teacher ratios with hands-on labs and specialized teacher assistants. “Save our Schools” is code for “We want to reintegrate our schools. Be part of their success.” Community forums, relationship building during staff encounters are the mayor’s job.



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