Tuesday night's city council forum was informative, surprising at times, a little chaotic (that stage, y'all! Dangery!), but overall a good chance to meet almost all the candidates for city council. I couldn't find a video for this event. If you find one, I'll link it.
The candidates had a very limited time to answer questions, 30-60 seconds. They did a great job for the most part. It was hectic with so many people on stage, but everyone managed to get their main points across. Below are the questions asked and the candidates who answered them. There were 25 questions, peppered multiple times throughout the candidates. Questions asked were provided by the sponsors of the forum. You will notice similar answers because some of the questions have similar themes. The order I have the candidates in is the order they answered each que-- Look, I know it sounds convoluted and that's because IT WAS. If you're here, you're buckled in for the long haul, so who cares? You're gonna read it anyway.
ATTENDEES 1. Andreas Addison, Jonathan Cruise 2. Charlie Diradour, Kimberly Gray, Rebecca Keel 3. Chris Hilbert (incumbent), Dorian Daniels, Milondra Coleman 4. Johnny Walker (left early), Kristen Larson, Larry Olanrewaju, Timothy Grimes 5. Garrett Sawyer, Montigue Magruder, Parker Agelasto (incumbent), 6. Donald Moss, Ellen Robertson (incumbent), 7. Joshua Williams 8. Amelia Lightner 9. Germika Pegram, Leon Benjamin, Marcus Squires, Michael Jones
NO SHOWS 1. Harry Warner 3. Hassan Fountain 4. Jeff Burke Thomas 7. Cynthia Newbille 8. Reva Trammell
1. EVERYONE is for fair one for one replacement housing for residents of Richmond's public housing, also known as The Courts. All candidates agree that we need to be respectful of the residents and provide them with safe housing and better services.
2. CRUISE 1 We need more input from those who utilize public transit the most to know how to improve it best.
DANIELS 3 His answer is the same as Cruise's.
MAGRUDER 5 Chesterfield County needs to be challenged on its 50% ownership of GRTC. We also need to be able to annex land from the surrounding localities to expand the city limits.
LIGHTNER 8 It is crucial for us to have regional partnerships to expand transit service. We can accomplish anything with teamwork.
3. HILBERT 3 We can't compare our schools to the surrounding localities. We have our own unique challenges. Council must cooperate with the School Board to identify the resources that are needed.
COLEMAN 3 Let's research to identify wasteful spending throughout City Hall and allocate our funds better. All levels of government must cooperate to do that.
AGELASTO 5 We need crack down on delinquent taxes to increase revenue to fund schools properly. We don't need to raise taxes, we just need to be more diligent in collecting them.
4. BENJAMIN 9 Kids do not care about politics. They just want a safe place to get a good education. We need to remove politics from our schools.
5. PEGRAM 9 We need to do a full audit and look at ways to reduce the fees.
LIGHTNER 8 Storm water fees are an undue burden. We need a report on how these fees are being spent.
MOSS 6 We need to tell people when we plan to hike fees, why and how much. We would have more revenue if we went after blighted properties and tax delinquent property owners, then we would not have a need to charge exorbitant fees.
GREY 2 It is important to balance taxes and fees. We need to explore why we pay so much more in the city than in surrounding localities.
COLEMAN 3 We must identify wasteful spending and then analyze where we can reduce costs.
6. DIRADOUR 2 Gentrification has a price. we must go into this with the intention of creating a diverse, inclusive community. We need to care for and respect our marginalized residents.
DANIELS 3 We need to train all of our residents to find better employment and give them financial management skills. He didn't actually answer the question, but I guess you can make out his intent.
OLANREWAJU 4 We need one-for-one housing to replace the Courts. We redevelop and let the property values get to high. We continue the cycle of poverty that way.
WILLIAMS 7 The city must keep property taxes manageable.
7. HILBERT 3 The problem is that we have so many unfilled positions. We need to get monthly reports on vacancies and fill those jobs.
DIRADOUR 2 We need to identify wasteful spending in all departments and target that extra money for repairs to our crumbling infrastructure.
ROBERTSON 6 DPW needs significant changes. It is too important a department to be run this way. We need to identify budgetary problems and staff properly.
8. THIS QUESTION INVOLVING REGIONAL COOPERATION IS ASKED IN OTHER FORMS IN A FEW OF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS.
ADDISON 1 We need to capitalize on our own talents and be willing to work with the surrounding counties.
9. OLANREWAJU 4 The city needs to provide training on the contract bidding process.
SAWYER 5 We need to make it possible for everyone to come to the table. We always see the same old faces getting city contracts. We should educate the public on the processes and opportunities available.
10. LARSON 4 We should help the homeless feel safer and identify the services they need the most. Then we need to ensure proper access to these services.
GRIMES 4 Homelessness is such an issue in Richmond. We need to recognize the problems and come up with solutions and better funding.
11. KEEL 2 Cooperation between all levels of government is sorely lacking. How everyone collaborates is extremely important. We need to stop in-fighting and be adult about dealing with the issues our city faces.
12. SQUIRES 9 All levels of government needs to come together to work with the General Assembly to provide better funding for schools.
13. GREY 2 We need to honor our commitments and additional revenues should go to teachers, police, and firemen.
GRIMES 4 This is all about lack of revenue. We need to treat and pay these personnel fairly.
JONES 9 We must end the pay freeze and find funding for raises.
14. WALKER 4 Make sure all schools have Spanish speakers working in them and provide better parental support.
PEGRAM 9 We need better ESL programs and we need to locate people who can relate to the community and are properly trained to help.
SQUIRES 9 We need better outreach to the Latinx community and more support for parents and students.
15. LARSON 4 She has been reaching out to the Latinx community and building support for years by listening and identifying important issues.
LIGHTNER 8 She has done outreach in this community.
JONES 9 He does outreach in the Latinx community and appointed Cecelia Ramos as his campaign's liaison to that community.
BENJAMIN 9 He is a pastor who has ministered to the Latinx community.
16. EVERYONE WHO IS RUNNING WANTS A LIAISON TO THE THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY APPOINTED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
17. CRUISE 1 Appoint liaison and begin community outreach.
OLANREWAJU 4 - The city is responsible for all of us. We need to meet the people where they live and listen to them.
COLEMAN 3 Let's partner with local community groups and let folks know that someone cares and understands.
18. AGELASTO 5 We must work with the RPD and the appointed liaison to bridge the trust divide.
19. LARSON 4 We need to speak to our elderly population and identify their specific needs.
WILLIAMS 7 We need to ensure easy access to public transit and make sure the elderly can stay in their homes by regulating property taxes.
KEEL 2 Community engagement is key. Actually listening to the needs of our senior population and implement policies based on those needs.
20. SAWYER 5 We need public engagement and everyone at the table to explain to surrounding counties the benefits of expanded transit for our seniors.
21. ROBERSTON 6 We must look at global warming contributors and the fuels we use. We must also reduce road traffic.
PEGRAM 9 We need to figure out how climate change is effecting our tax dollars and also conserve our fuels.
GRIMES 4 We need to champion state and federal guidelines and deal with our storm preparation deficiencies.
22. BENJAMIN 9 Council needs to work with the mayor on a more effective budget. We must prove we can pay well to attract more applicants.
23. MOSS 6 His wife is a proud feminist, as is Don. We need to stop undervaluing our women. Unequal pay is crippling our economy.
JONES 9 The biggest challenge to women is attaining quality education, employment and personal safety. We must have a fair and equal wage.
24. ADDISON 1 Yes! Public safety is paramount and RPD is understaffed. We need to empower our teachers and better pay will do that.
MAGRUDER 5 Montague feels we should pay teachers fairly, but in all honesty, he would like to abolish the Richmond Police Department. DEAD SERIOUS. He is a vocal critic of police officers.
ROBERTSON 6 Yes to pay raises. We can accomplish this by collecting delinquent taxes.
25. DANIELS 3 We should use technology to allow all citizens to know what is going on with the city budget. An app perhaps?
MAGRUDER 5 He would implement participatory budgeting where the community is a full partner in the budget process.
CRUISE 1 We must publicize how we spend taxpayer money.
SAWYER 5 We need a full audit of our books.
26. MOSS 6 Let's be honest. City officials and their regional counterparts are NOT on good terms. We must reach out and befriend them. The city and counties need each other. Regional cooperation is a must for us to move forward.
KEEL 2 We need strategic leadership. Council is a part time job, but she would be a full time councilperson. Currently, the counties walk all over us. We need to reach out and everyone needs to truly LISTEN.
HILBERT 3 Better systems need to be in place to attract the counties to work with us.
AGELASTO 5 Council members should pledge to work on building trust, confidence and relationships with their regional counterparts.
GREY 2 We need to take deliberate action to get into the same room as county officials and have serious conversations about shared revenues and resources.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THEY CRAMMED ALL OF THIS INTO 2 1/2 HOURS?! 🐝