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Stoney Promises Focus on Racial Justice in Second Term

Two men elbow bumping
Mayor Levar Stoney (left) bumping elbows with Judge Kevin Duffan, who swore him in for his second term. (Screenshot from event)

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney was sworn in Monday for his second four-year term. During an address following his inauguration, Stoney spoke of the adversity and upheaval the city experienced over the previous year.

“2020 was a year of reckoning. Countless trials held a mirror up to our faces and asked us if we approved of the reflection staring back at us,” he said. “ And, that’s a good thing. Because now, armed with lessons learned over the course of the last four years about injustice rooted in 400 years, we have the chance to turn this reckoning into reconciliation.”

Stoney won his second term following a hard-fought campaign which saw him win 37% of the vote city-wide, outperforming his 2016 win by two points and securing a narrow victory. In a close race for second, political activist Alexsis Rogers edged out former City Council Member Kim Gray, with each receiving 26% of the vote.

During his address, Stoney said he too would take lessons from his first term forward, signaling he hoped to increase citizen participation in decision making around large projects. He came under fire last year for failing to seek community input during the failed Navy Hilldevelopment, something Gray often criticized the mayor for during his campaign. 

Stoney declared he intends to center his next four years in office on “justice,” saying every decision made by City Hall should focus on improving the lives of all Richmonders.

“It should right a past wrong and remove one brick in the wall erected to keep Black and brown Richmonders back. Ladies and gentleman, that’s justice,” he said. “While we can’t guarantee the success of all 230,000 Richmonders, we can work to break down the barriers that stand in the way of them fulfilling their God-given potential.”

Over his next term, Stoney will be working with a familiar City Council that features only two new members. City Council’s first meeting of the new year will take place Monday night, as the city continues to grapple with surging COVID-19 cases, continuing protests for racial justice and a proposal to build a casino in the city.

Connor Scribner is a former VPM News assistant editor.
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