December 28, 2005 News & Features » Cover Story


Wilder Levels Richmond 

It's not that we didn't see it coming. The mayor had spent the weeks leading up to his inauguration calling press conferences and bludgeoning the outgoing administration, particularly former City Manager Calvin Jamison and former Police Chief André Parker. But that was to be expected. There were rumblings that the new mayor might not be so easy to get along with, but City Councilman Bill Pantele wasn't buying it.

"I think things are going to work much more smoothly than some people have been led to believe," Pantele said, as Wilder and Cosby exited the stage.

A year later, the city is stumbling around dazed and confused. The old guard is fuming. The mayor has indeed changed city government, installed his own people, including the unretractable Paul Goldman, and recommitted a city consumed with big projects to fixing schools and fighting crime.

But what happened to the old guard's city — their plans, their performing arts center? What happened to the-best-thing-that-ever-happened-to-Richmond, as certain business leaders were so fond of saying?

And where is Charles Nance, anyway?

He's starting to show up again, at City Council sometimes. He was at Gov.-elect Tim Kaine's election night party. But the former school board member and mayoral candidate won't touch the Wilder question. Few will. They know how he'll punch your lights out, and then have you convinced you walked into his bare knuckles.

"I don't know," Nance said in the lobby of the Richmond Marriott, moments after Wilder, Kaine and Gov. Mark Warner stood side-by-side on the gubernatorial victory stage. "But it's a great question." S



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