Mayor-elect Levar Stoney fended-off a runoff with former Venture Richmond director Jack Berry by winning the necessary five of nine districts to secure the mayoral election outright.
“Last night the City of Richmond chose a progressive leader to move our city forward and take our city to the next level,” Stoney said on Wednesday at a press conference. “It is my commitment as the next mayor of the city to inject fresh energy, a new approach and new ideas to take this city to the next level.”
The 35-year-old won in surprising fashion.
After coming in fifth and third in the two official polls of the election season, the former director of the Democratic Party of Virginia and Secretary of the Commonwealth won 35 percent of the popular vote.
Berry was a close second with just more than 33 percent. Former Virginia Delegate Joe Morrissey, who lead in every poll during the campaign season, came in third with about 21 percent of the vote.
If no candidate was able to clinch five districts, the protocol would have been for the race to head to a runoff election between the two candidates with the highest share of the popular vote. For some time on election night, the race appeared to be headed in that direction as Stoney had the lead in four districts.
A nail biting comeback in the 6th district, however, changed Stoney’s outlook when they race was called after the last absentee ballots were counted almost 24 hours after the polls closed.
Stoney won the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th Districts, while Berry took the 1st and 4th districts. Despite a challenging week leading up to the election, Morrissey was able to pull of victories in the 8th and 9th districts.
Stoney said he was surprised by his win in the 2nd district, which is primarily comprised of VCU students.
“I’ve got to say the Second District surprised me,” Stoney said in his first press conference as mayor-elect. “I’ve got to recognize the students at VCU who came out in force and supported my candidacy.”
Morrissey conceded the race in a press conference, congratulating his opponents on a “very well-run race” at around 10 p.m. on election night.
“I was pleased to run with some really tough candidates and I want to congratulate Levar Stoney and Jack Berry, both of them are heading for a runoff,” Morrissey stated in a press release.
Morrissey, who has been unscathed by controversy in the past, could not do the same this time around.
A law client accused Morrissey of exposing himself to her 11 days before the election, and although the lawyer denied the allegation he admitted to exchanging “flirtatious” text messages with her while he was engaged to his now-wife.
In 2014, Morrissey won reelection to the House of Delegates while serving a three-month jail sentence for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, who he is now married to.
Four days prior to the election, The Washington Post editorial board penned a scathing piece about the 59-year-old. In the article, the Post compared Morrissey to Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman who resigned in 2011 when the first of his many sexting scandals went public.
“Voters can make up their own minds,” the editorial board stated, “but it would be a shame to elect a man, already a national laughingstock, whose odious behavior and scandal-smudged résumé would overshadow the city’s achievements.”
On Thursday, the mayor-elect announced the leadership of his transition team, which will include Tiffany Jana, the CEO of TMI Consulting, and Bill Leighty, the former Chief of Staff to Governors Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.
Thad Williamson, associate professor of leadership studies at the University of Richmond and former director of the Office of Community Wealth Building, will serve as the director of Stoney’s transition team.
“Richmond has elected a young, inspiring leader with a vision for the future and immense dedication to our schools and children,” Berry said after the election, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I congratulate Levar Stoney on his election as the next mayor of Richmond. I wish him the very best and will be pulling for him and the city.”
Siona is a senior majoring in political science with a concentration in international relations and a double minor in media studies and Arabic and Middle Eastern studies. She is heavily influenced by her family’s immigrant background and often writes about the intersection of politics with identity. Siona is an advocate for grassroots activism and political movements, and her dream job involves multimedia-based investigative journalism. She has a plethora of life goals but is only focusing on two right now: learning as many languages as possible and perfecting her Instagram aesthetic. [email protected]