Ann Lambert - 3rd District City Council Candidate


1. The City of Richmond has a 25% poverty rate, citizens and neighborhoods with enormous unmet needs, as well as public infrastructure such as roads and school  buildings that are aging or sub-standard. The City also has the highest local property tax rate in the region. What strategies should Richmond employ to generate the resources needed to better meet the City’s needs?


The City should have the schools sell the surplus properties that are in prime real estate areas, (i.e. Arthur Ashe Center, Richmond Coliseum) and use the proceeds to build a world class training center, and the 3rd district can be the model for other sites in other districts. 


If these strategies don’t suffice to generate the  revenue needed to meet community needs, would you be willing to consider revenue  increases, and if so, in what areas? 


We need to consider sports tourism as an option to generate funds similar to what the County of Henrico did by transforming Virginia Center Commons into a sports complex.  Richmond has a lot of amateur athletes that can capitalize from the exposure. Sports represents families and amateur sports generates huge revenues with basketball, volleyball, soccer, and cheerleading tournaments to name a few.  If we want an increase in our sales, meals and lodging taxes we need to bring people here to actually spend money in our city. Sports tourism is a great solution to do so, but we need an infrastructure project to do so.  


2. Richmond’s Office of Community Wealth Building, which helped 600 residents obtain employment in 2018-19, has established a goal of cutting child poverty (now at nearly  40% citywide) in half over the next ten years. It has set a further goal of moving 1,000 additional households a year above the poverty line through living-wage, full-time  employment. Do you support these goals? 


Yes I support the goals to cut child poverty in half over the next ten years. 


What steps should the City take to encourage  employers to train and hire under-employed residents into pathways leading to living  wage employment and successful careers? 


The City should sell some of the surplus properties and dedicate the proceeds to a world class training center (i.e. Bidwell-Manchester Training Center located in Pittsburgh, PA) specializing in certifications and skilled jobs for trade jobs and developments in the City. 


What other specific actions will you support to achieve the goals of fighting poverty and building community wealth?  


My vision is to have the 3rd district become the model in training citizens on a pathway to prosperity. We have to improve and utilize our Technical School. Use the old school buildings and landmarks as a training ground for our students to obtain the necessary hours to allow a certification before they graduate from high school. I have a slew of out of the box ideas to address the poverty rate. 


3. Should aging public housing communities be re-developed in the next ten years? If so, how can this be done with genuine community input and support? How can such a process assure the availability of affordable housing does not shrink and that all current public housing residents obtain replacement housing? What funding sources should  Richmondseek? 


No, all public housing communities need to be knocked down and rebuilt to nice affordable home ownership options. We need to have out of the box thinking when it comes to affordable housing options. The Boxable concept is a low cost modular home concept that can be delivered and set up in a day. We have to re-imagine and provide homeownership opportunities. The Maggie Walker Land Trust does not provide an option for ownership. 


4. In the past decade, two major efforts brought forth by mayors to promote downtown aredevelopment have been rejected by City Council and most of the public. Yet the city remains in need of economic development, a stronger tax base, and more quality employment opportunities for residents. What processes do you believe the city should adopt to promote community-supported economic development? How would you define successful economic development, in Richmond’s context? 


The City needs to revamp their marketing efforts in engaging the citizens of Richmond. According to the Master Plan, 60% of residents wants some type of arena to the downtown area. We have to look at those revenues that spark increase and its comes from tourism. If we build it they will come. 


5. What is the role of the Mayor and City Council in supporting Richmond Public Schools  and RPS students and families?


The mission of Richmond City Council is to represent citizens in creating and amending local laws, providing government policy and oversight, and approving the city budget. 


How can funding needs for the RPS Strategic Plan be  met while also assuring accountability for use of funds and for outcomes? What does the  City need to do further to meet the need of children outside of the RPS school day? 


The City should access all available resources i.e. E-rates funding, subscriber fees that are charged to the customer and is given to the federal government and the funds are geared towards schools and libraries. 


Virginia First Cities was able to write a grant that allowed Richmond to obtain funds for the schools since the LCI is outdated and the formula needs revamping. 


6. How can Richmond better leverage its status as the capital of the Commonwealth of  Virginia to gain further support from state government?

Richmond has an opportunity to capitalize on the civil unrest that is occurring across the country. Given the history of Virginia and how we can be the example for the world on how we overcame our racist past to move forward as a united community. 


What priorities for funding and policy would you set? 


As we are still enduring the pandemic, the priority would be to curve the number of cases of Covid so we can re-open safely. Full funding for mental health services would be a necessity given the effects of being isolated.  Evictions are looming in the 3rd, and funding towards the Eviction Assistance Program and the Housing Land Trust respectively will be a priority.


7. Do you believe the City of Richmond’s internal functioning has improved over the last 4  years? Why or why not?


No. Being a former City Council Liaison, I had the pleasure of working under a different form of government. The City Manager form of government appeared to be a more effective way of handling the City’s business. 


Do you believe the delivery of basic services in the City has  improved over the last 4 years? Why or why not? 


No. We all know the permits process is nothing but red tape. We have to stop hiring temporary workers to do jobs that an experienced workforce can handle. 


What steps would you promote or  support to improve the City’s internal operations and improve citizen confidence in City Hall? Be as specific as possible in your answer. 


There needs to be an honest conversation with the current employees. WE need to provide mentorship within municipal government employees, and create a pathway for our RPS students to enter the civil jobs workforce. 


8. What tangible steps do you envision Richmond as having taken by 2024 to promote racial  and economic equity and to tackle systemic racism?


Amend all ordinances dated prior to 1970, that exhibit bias practices that continue to disenfranchise African-Americans and people of color. We have to DEAL with the FEELINGS from Virginia’s racist past, and acknowledge the pain. People are still in denial of the true meaning of the confederacy here in Virginia, and not having to show empathy for others is the result of such behaviors. 


How will you use your office to advance these steps, and how will you act to build the public support needed for sustained action?  


I will be the beacon of hope that the Third District can rely on. I will utilize my relationships I have gained throughout my career and bring innovative events to the Richmond area that address these concerns. A speaker series with authors versed in Race Relations is a start. 

9. What more should the City of Richmond being doing to reduce gun violence in our communities?


We have to improve on our community policing initiatives. Accountability within our police departments is a start. Eradicating the “bad apples” from the police force would help improve the racist issues that plaque our city. 


What does Richmond need to do to better address the root causes of  violent crime?  


We need to employ citizens from the community that have been through the system and can be a “Community Coach”, to aid in  de-escalate situations before the police are called. We have to educate everyone on our roles and de-program the negative perceptions we have for people of color. Trust has to be restored and it starts with a conversation. 


10. What changes in policing, criminal justice, and public safety are needed in Richmond, and what is the role of the Mayor and City Council in bringing them about? 


A plethora of changes are necessary and I'm glad the current City Council has taken action to address these concerns. The Marcus-Davis-Peters alert. An Independent Citizen Review Board is a great start in adopting ordinances the community is crying out for. 


What more needs to be done to support successful re-entry of returning citizens?  


Training and education are necessary in order for successful re-entry back into society. People need opportunity and hope to know they can elevate themselves to another level  financially


11. What should the city government do to assure that economic recovery from the pandemic induced recession takes place on an equitable basis that includes residents hit hardest by job loss during the spring 2020 downturn? 


We must review the mandated requirements set forth by the State of Virginia and the City Charter first before we can appropriate the necessary funds. We must use discretion when considering the Non-Departmental Budgets. I would consider looking into Capital Improvement Projects that can be put on hold and re-finance some projects that have not started. 


What specific steps can be taken to support Black and Latinx-owned local businesses? 


We must ensure there is access to capital for these small minority businesses. Work in conjunction with the Metropolitan Business League and the Office of Community Wealth Building to empower those wanting to become entrepreneurs.


12. What have been the strong and weak points of the City of Richmond’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, from a public health perspective?


The citizens of Richmond appear to be adhering to the social distancing and wearing a mask rules. It's those individuals that deem the pandemic not a crisis a problem in the rise of Covidcases. 


What has the crisis revealed about long-term disparities in health outcomes that should inform future public health strategies? 


The pandemic has revealed there are disparities within our healthcare system, but also within education, housing, and the environment. 


What specifically will you do to support stronger public health (including mental and behavioral health) during your term in office? 


I will explore all funding streams to make sure we have full funding for mental health services. I want to ensure that the 37% of people who are coming out of jail have mental health issues, are being addressed. That is too high of a number and the needs have to be met if everyone wants to live in a safe environment where we can live, work and play.