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Richmond Mayor Launches Reelection Bid With Gov’s Endorsement

mayor levar stoney standing at a podium with a campaign sign and governor ralph northam stands behind him
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, alongside Governor Ralph Northam, held a reelection campaign kick-off at the Church Hill Overlook on Tuesday. (Roberto Roldan/VPM)

With the Richmond skyline as a backdrop, Mayor Levar Stoney officially kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday at the Church Hill Overlook.

Alongside him was Governor Ralph Northam, who endorsed Stoney’s reelection bid. Stoney also touted endorsements from Delegates Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) and Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond). 

Northam told the press that he and Stoney first met around 2007, when Northam was a doctor interested in running for the state Senate. The governor said he and Stoney have worked closely together since then on education, evictions and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.

“He has been out there in the communities making sure that those who have the most need have access to PPE, that they have access to testing, that they have access to quality and affordable health care, and I certainly commend him for that,” Northam said. 

Stoney followed up Northam's remarks with what he sees as his biggest accomplishments over the last four years in office. He highlighted increased contributions to Richmond’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund as well as new funding for education and school construction.

“I ran in 2016 and said I’d be an education mayor,” Stoney said. “I’ll be handing over the keys to RPS this week to open three new schools: one right here in the East End and two in Southside, focused in Black and brown neighborhoods.”

Stoney also outlined his commitments for the next four years, if he wins reelection. They include universal pre-K for public school students, police reform and redeveloping the old public housing communities, commonly referred to as “the courts.”

“If [over] the next 10 years the gaps remain on education achievement, on homeownership, on wealth building, then we will have missed our moment as a city,” he said. “I’m asking residents not to miss the moment.”

Stoney is positioning himself as an experienced candidate for change. He faces challenges from across the political spectrum, but none have prior experience as mayor. 

The most politically seasoned challenger, City Councilwoman Kim Gray, served eight years on the Richmond School Board before being elected to City Council in 2016. Gray has  campaigned on restoring order after months of sometimes violent protests.

Stoney has also faced criticism from the left, with progressive candidate Alexsis Rodgers hammering him for being too hard on protesters.

“Contrary to the position of the mayor, tear gas and the level of excessive force deployed by RPD should never be used during peaceful protest, not even as a last resort,” Rodgers said back in June. “The police violence perpetrated against my fellow Richmonders has to stop.

Both Gray and Rodgers recently attacked Stoney on a $1.8 million monument removal contract that went to the company of one of his campaign donors. Gray requested Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin  investigate.

At Tuesday’s campaign kick-off Stoney didn’t discuss his failed Navy Hill project, which would have used future tax revenue to redevelop the Richmond Coliseum alongside nearly $1 billion in private apartments, and event and office space. City Council rejected the proposed deal after an independent commission found a new downtown arena  was not “a sound public investment.”

Anti-Navy Hill activist and lawyer Justin Griffin and small business owner Tracey Mclean are also running for mayor in November.

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