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Jer'Mykeal McCoy

Jer'Mykeal McCoy

Name: Jer'Mykeal McCoy

Bio: Jer’Mykeal McCoy dedicates his time to advocating for and empowering residents of the 5th District and the greater Richmond community. Currently, McCoy is a Business Development Manager with Schutt Sports. He is also the President for the Urban League Greater Richmond Young Professionals. McCoy is running for Richmond City Council because he believes that as our city grows, so should all of us. He wants to use his policy and business experience to enhance the lives of his fellow Richmonders.

What do you see as the biggest issue facing residents of the 5th District and how do you plan to address it, if elected?

The biggest issue facing residents of the 5th district is the same issue facing our entire city, and that is the alarming state of Richmond Public Schools, a result of decades of neglect. I applaud the efforts of Superintendent Kamras and the School Board to reform and repair the administrative culture. There is certainly more work to do, but I am tentatively confident that we are on the right track. Ensuring that RPS is fully funded and equipped with the resources it needs to serve every child in a safe and nurturing environment is a prerequisite for any meaningful change in our community. I am committing to fully funding RPS every budget year I serve on Council.

Where do you stand on the public financing of a new downtown arena/coliseum and related developments?

Anytime we consider dedicating public funds to these types of projects, we must weigh the promises made by the developers against the potential risks of failure. I would vote “no” on the current NH proposal. My economic priorities are: on-site paid job training/certification, realistic affordable housing, and guarantees for minority-owned and Richmond-based businesses.  I am always willing to discuss changes to the proposal, but this plan needs to sufficiently address these key priorities of Richmonders. The current plan does not.

In 2017, the City of Richmond published its Vision Zero Action Plan with the goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities. Despite those efforts, there’s been more than 100 crashes involving pedestrians in the first seven months of 2019. That resulted in three fatalities and 113 injuries. What will you do, if anything, to work toward the goals of Vision Zero and create safe streets for pedestrians?

I will support expanding protected infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians across our entire city, prioritizing the roads and intersections that have seen multiple collisions. I will also support efforts to prevent contractors from obstructing sidewalks during construction. There’s no reason for people to be maimed or killed crossing the street because the sidewalk ended in favor of port-o-potties. We also need to make sure traffic slows down in the city. I would be open to proposals to convert some one-way streets to two-way, which would both slow traffic and make our neighborhoods more accessible. Finally, I will commit to funding multimodal alternative forms of transportation that take cars off of the road, which leads to a safer and healthier environment for us all.

Property values in the 5th District are increasing rapidly: recent assessments showed a 25% year-over-year increase in Swansboro and about a 10% increase in Randolph. Rents in Richmond have also increased by about 25% since 2012, according to the RTD. How do you plan to address the need for affordable housing, both for moderate and low-income residents?

As a City Council representative, I will take any opportunity I can to increase the affordable housing stock in Richmond. New housing developments should be required to provide truly affordable units for families at every economic level. We know that the best way to counteract rising housing costs is to increase the supply of new housing units. That's simple supply and demand. We have a huge demand for affordable housing in Richmond, and we need to meet that with an adequate supply. That means ending exclusionary zoning and reevaluating things like parking requirements, which restrict us from providing new places for people to live. I believe we must also ensure that we increase outreach to our seniors and other homeowners eligible for tax relief programs.

Where do you stand on efforts to remove or relocate Confederate monuments in Richmond?

There’s no doubt these statues were erected in a spirit of racism, with the purpose of glorifying defenders of slavery and intimidating African-Americans. They must be removed. But I understand those who think that our endless deliberations about Confederate monuments are a distraction from the tangible issues that affect Richmonders’ day-to-day lives. While I would support lobbying the General Assembly to grant the city the power to remove these monuments, I would not let that distract me from leading the fight for more affordable housing, workforce development, and funding for RPS.

The 5th District encompasses much of Richmond’s green space including Maymont and Byrd Parks, as well as parts of the James River Park System. What will you do to ensure future access and protection of Richmond’s natural resources?

I support the full implementation of the James River Park System Master Plan, the Regional Rivers Plan, and the Richmond 300 Plan, where I sat on the Advisory Council. We have so many passionate experts who have put years of work and knowledge into crafting these long-term plans for our natural resources, and City Council needs to implement them.

A common complaint among Richmond residents is the perceived inefficiency of city services. How will you hold the city administration accountable to getting the basics right (i.e. filling potholes, promptly responding to service requests, permitting, etc.)?

City Council holds the purse strings for city government. At the end of the day, Council must exert oversight over the funds they allocate. We have multiple audits that layout recommendations for how to get these basic city services back on track, and I'm willing to condition department funding increases on the implementation of those recommendations.

Richmond Public Schools has hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance and construction needs. Would you support raising taxes to fund facilities? If so, which taxes? If not, how would you address those needs?

It’s never popular to raise taxes, especially while doubts abound about the city’s financial stewardship. But after having already raised the meals tax and instituted a cigarette tax, remaining options for the city to generate revenue are few and far between. Our main revenue-raising tool is the real estate tax which remains at a Recession-era low, but there must be prerequisites before we consider increasing it to pre-Recession levels. We must identify and eliminate waste and inefficiencies in city government, and make sure that we actually collect all real estate taxes already owed. We must also make every effort to increase state-level education funding by advocating for an adjustment to the local composite index and an increased payment in lieu of taxes from the state government. Finally, we must formally guarantee that all revenue raised from this increase would be reserved for schools and not diverted for any other uses. Only if I felt confident that those objectives had been achieved would I consider voting to raise the real estate tax. Any increase in taxes would also have to be accompanied by expanding tax relief programs for elderly and low-income property owners to ensure we hold them harmless.

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