We sent the following questionnaire to the candidates for Mayor and City Council.
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Please respond to each question below in as much detail as possible. Thank you for being willing to share your views on these questions.
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? 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? Be as comprehensive as possible in your answer.
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? 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? What other specific actions will you support to achieve the goals of fighting poverty and building community wealth?
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 Richmond seek?
4. In the past decade, two major efforts brought forth by mayors to promote downtown area development 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?
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?
6. How can Richmond better leverage its status as the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia to gain further support from state government? What priorities for funding and policy would you set?
7. Do you believe the City of Richmond’s internal functioning has improved over the last 4 years? Why or why not? Do you believe the delivery of basic services in the City has improved over the last 4 years? Why or why not? 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.
8. What tangible steps do you envision Richmond having taken by 2024 to promote racial and economic equity and to tackle systemic racism? How will you use your office to advance these steps, and how will you act to build the public support needed for sustained action?
9. What more should the City of Richmond being doing to reduce gun violence in our communities? What does Richmond need to do to better address the root causes of violent crime?
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? What more needs to be done to support successful re-entry of returning citizens?
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?
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?