The ongoing pandemic has resulted in thousands of Richmonders being out of work. It would be irresponsible to raise real estate and personal property taxes at this time. However, we have yet to exhaust opportunities to increase taxes on other sources such as cigarettes. The City of Richmond also needs to follow the recommendations outlined by the Office of the City Auditor. Over the past decade, the Auditor has found dozens of opportunities the City can reign in spending. Very few of these recommendations have been followed or implemented. Some estimates indicate that an additional $15-$25 million could go towards RPS annually if the City followed the Auditor’s recommendations.
I do support the goal of cutting child poverty and moving households above the poverty line. As it relates to creating more job opportunities, we have to look at this from a regional perspective rather than just a City one. I’ve also proposed partnering with our neighboring localities and the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce to create Richmond Works - a centralized employment database and job training resource that will connect local employers and residents. We have the opportunity to give all residents the chance at starting or enhancing their career opportunities if we tackle this from a regional standpoint.
I’ve also outlined an ambitious affordable housing strategy. To increase housing opportunities in the City of Richmond and create diversity of housing stock that is accessible to Richmonders at all income levels, we must follow the Partnership for Housing Affordability’s Regional Housing Framework recommendations that include: (1) Increase the amount of land available for multifamily housing development in commercial and residential zones; (2) Support and expand the community land trust homeownership model; (3) Reduce barriers to accessory dwelling units in residential districts; (4) Establish inclusionary zoning programs that incentivize affordable dwelling units; (5) Integrate affordable housing into transportation-rich corridors; and (6) Increase the number of residential zoning districts where manufactured homes are permitted.
It should be redeveloped and done in a manner that reflects resident needs and desires. To do this effectively, it will take careful planning and coordination between RRHA and a new housing department that I have proposed as part of my platform. I believe that safe, affordable housing is a right so we must ensure that no one is displaced.
Funding will need to come from state, federal, and private sources. I’ve seen this effectively done in places like Miami and Charlotte where mixed income communities provide a launching pad for wealth creation.
Communication is key to proposing economic development projects. As part of my pledges to residents of the First District, I’ve committed to:
There is no substitute to actively engaging and being a part of the community an elected official serves.
There are three main metrics I would use to judge any economic development proposal:
5. What is the role of the Mayor and City Council in supporting Richmond Public Schools and RPS students and families? 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?
We should be focusing more resources towards Richmond Public Schools which is why I’ve proposed that the City of Richmond allocate at least 25% of its annual revenues towards RPS funding for the next 20 years. This is a floor allocation percentage which can be higher based on revenues but by creating a baseline, we have a jumping off point for more productive conversations about funding.
I also believe that City Council members have an individual responsibility to lead by example. They need to inspire Richmond residents to do everything they can to support RPS. That is why I’m pledging that if elected, I will donate 100% of my City Council salary towards the establishment and implementation of a new scholarship program for Thomas Jefferson High School students. This scholarship will be designed to help students gain access to the colleges, universities, community colleges, and technical schools of their choice. I will advocate that residents join me in this effort to provide RPS students with as many opportunities as possible.
Finally, we have yet to exhaust opportunities to increase taxes on other sources such as cigarettes.
Finally, the City of Richmond needs to follow the recommendations outlined by the Office of the City Auditor. Over the past decade, the Auditor has found dozens of opportunities the City can reign in spending. Very few of these recommendations have been followed or implemented. Some estimates indicate that an additional $15-$25 million could go towards RPS annually if the City followed the Auditor’s recommendations.
Since the beginning of my campaign, I have proposed the process for funding and implementing a 0-5 daycare and preschool program in the City of Richmond. Research has shown that early childhood education coupled with strong mentor/mentee relationships provide better outcomes for learning.
The Mayor recently announced his support for a 4-5 pre-K program but I don’t believe that goes far enough.
We must lobby to end the Dillon Rule and to require the state pay taxes on state-owned properties.
It has not. In fact, I believe that things have gotten worse. I will do everything in my power to ensure that residents in the First District have answers/solutions from City departments.
Accountability/transparency continues to be a central concern. The only way a representative democracy truly works is if residents have access to the information they are entitled to. If elected, I will work with my colleagues on City Council and in the General Assembly to propose several City of Richmond Charter changes. They include adding a Conflict of Interest Administrator within the Office of the Auditor who could investigate City Administration, City Council, and City employee behavior. I would also advocate for council oversight provisions. City Council needs actionable tools if the Administration/Mayor acts outside of his/her defined duties. Those tools should include audit authority of the Administration and members of the Administration.
Research shows that the best way to promote racial and economic equity is through housing. I will push for a comprehensive, affordable housing plan that provides a solid foundation for residents across all Council districts.
One of the major initiatives that Chief Durham initiated was more community policing. This initiative helped foster greater cooperation and trust between residents and police. We need to begin implementing community policing back into the City of Richmond. I am a major advocate for community policing as a foundation for safer neighborhoods. This is the most effective way to reduce gun violence.
I believe that the Civilian Review Board is a strong next step.
11. What should 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? What specific steps can be taken to support Black and Latinx-owned local businesses?
I have proposed consolidating the Department of Economic & Community Development with theEconomic Development Authority. This consolidation would eliminate red tape in providing businesses, especially Black and Latinx-owned businesses, with grants and other financial resources.
For small business owners, I have proposed lowering the BPOL and personal property tax rates for all businesses in the City of Richmond with a combined annual revenue of less than $5 million. The new rate should be in-line with our neighboring localities.
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? What has the crisis revealed about long-term disparities in health outcomes that should inform future public health strategies? What specifically will you do to support stronger public health (including mental and behavioral health) during your term in office?
From the start, health efforts related to COVID-19 were focused on white Richmonders. Testing lagged in the Black and Latinx communities. We need to ensure that this never happens again by creating a system that treats all residents on an equal footing.