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Nicholas Da Silva

Nicholas Da Silva

Name: Nicholas Da Silva

Bio: Nicholas Da Silva is an activist, community organizer, and working class resident of the 5th district. He has worked at the state and successfully pushed for bills which gave students greater voice in higher education. He has also fought locally for police reform and helped create networks fighting for an end to the exploitative prison labor practices statewide.

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 is just the struggle most people face getting by. With rents being pushed up throughout the area, one of the highest eviction rates in the country, and dilapidated and underfunded public services like schools, transportation, and housing, most residents are finding it harder and harder to get by. We need to prioritize the general welfare of our citizens by listening to community input.

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

I oppose the project. After speaking with hundreds of residents from diverse areas of the 5th, I've received a lot of negative feedback regarding the coliseum development. People generally aren't supportive of the project when I discuss it with them at doors, citing the funding model and lack of clear need compared to other city priorities such as schools. The clear push from its many corporate sponsors and high level connections without substantial community feedback make it a representation of how the city is run at a lot of levels, giving priority to developers over citizens.

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?

One of the most important things we can do for vision zero is to work to take the more cars off the road by increasing funding for and expanding the public transportation network. By creating a safe and reliable means for people to access the different parts of the city, we open up the city to everyone who lives there. We also need to focus on the urban design of our streets and implement stoplights, speed bumps, and other minor tweaks on roads which naturally decrease speeds and create greater walkability. When I recently knocked doors on Semmes Ave, a resident pointed out the concrete pylons used for the original trolley system were in place, which was taken out to make room for more cars. We have to reverse these decisions which made our city unwalkable and unbikeable in the first place, and make Richmond friendly to all kinds of transit. 

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?

We need an immediate change in our real estate tax policies for our most vulnerable residents. Progressive taxation in the city, enacted by working alongside state legislators, could remove the burden of high taxes on working class and fixed income residents while large landowners who can afford it pay their fair share. We also need to increase our public housing stock while redeveloping our existing courts and properties. If we put our minds and funds to it, we could easily use existing RRHA properties and tax-delinquent properties to house the almost 500 homeless individuals that are out on city streets on a given night.

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

I support the removal of the confederate monuments. As a survivor of the August 12th attacks in Charlottesville,  I stand firmly against the legacy of white supremacy and fascism the statues represent. We can't pretend to want to heal the scars of racism while the wounds still fester.

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?

Our most valuable resources are our green spaces, and the funding of initiatives to plant more native large flora and trees throughout Richmond would make our city more walkable and helps reduce the urban heat index. Creating interconnected greenspaces is important to protecting our overall ecosystem in Richmond. It is important we also use public funding and work with environmental organizations to push for ecologically sound policies which push back against climate destruction on the local level.

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.)?

So far during our campaign, we've submitted a dozen plus 311 requests on behalf of various residents in different areas of the city, working to patch up the holes in roads, replace long missing street signs, and many other issues. Most people feel like City Council members don't listen to their concerns, and feel disconnected from the governing process. If we work to empower citizens to feel their voices are important and meet people where they are, we can make sure their requests for maintenance are included in the process and will actually be addressed.

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?

I would support raising taxes. The absolute first priority needs to be the development and push for progressive taxation for real estate and property tax in collaboration with the state legislature. We need a representative to push for these changes, because if we continue to rely on regressive taxes to pay for the services we desperately need, then the costs will just be shifted onto those who can't afford it.

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