Race for Richmond mayor begins, filing deadline next week

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is running for reelection, and Councilwoman Kim Gray has announced her bid. CT file photo

Katharine DeRosa, Contributing Writer

The race for mayor is heating up as different candidates, including a lawyer, a councilwoman and the incumbent mayor, have announced their bids for the office.

Photos supplied by candidates
Richmond 2nd District Councilwoman Kim Gray. Photo courtesy of Kim Gray

Richmond City Councilwoman Kim Gray announced her official bid for mayor on Sunday March 1 at Bar Solita, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

If Gray wins, she would be the first woman to hold the position of mayor in Richmond.

During her four-year run as councilwoman of the 2nd district, Gray led the campaign to rename Boulevard as Arthur Ashe Boulevard after the African-American tennis star from Richmond.

“One thing I’m most proud of is Arthur Ashe Boulevard,” Gray said.

Gray said people have been asking her about a potential run for mayor for the last three years.

I’ve been bombarded with texts, emails, calls, and when I go to the grocery store,” Gray said.

Gray has worked on many Richmond projects, she said, including working with the city to develop a VCU childcare center at Moore Street School, renovating Abner Clay park, adding a green space and bike trail in Scott’s Addition, opposing the Navy Hill project and providing money for businesses along the GRTC Pulse route.

The Navy Hill project, as described in proposal documents, includes developing the downtown Richmond area north of Broad Street known as Navy Hill to contain more retail, housing and dining.

Richmond area lawyer Justin Griffin has also talked about throwing his hat into the ring of candidates. He launched a website titled griffinformayor.com, which addresses his rumored bid and criticizes Richmond’s elected officials for operating “with misplaced priorities.”

“Instead of focusing with urgency on improving our schools and neighborhoods, they continue to spend all their time on big-shiny-projects and their political futuress,” Griffin states on the website. “Richmond deserves better.”

Griffin also founded the website nocoliseum.com, in which he openly criticizes Stoney’s plans for the Richmond Coliseum.

Richmond lawyer Justin Griffin. Photo courtesy of Justin Griffin

On that website, Griffin addresses the math involved in Stoney’s proposal in the Navy Hill plan and makes the argument that the numbers would not work out. The development proposal was stricken by city council in February.

Griffin said that he is considering a mayoral run because he wants to solve the city’s problems.

I don’t see anyone in the potential range of candidates who would change the status-quo,” Griffin said.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney plans on seeking reelection. Kevin Zeithaml, Stoney’s campaign manager, said in an email that Stoney was not available to comment because he is busy dealing with the current threat of COVID-19.

To appear on the November ballot, candidates must collect 500 signatures from registered voters, with at least 50 from each from each city council district, by June.

Those interested in running for primaries held on June 9 must file by March 26 at 5 p.m. Potential candidates have to file eight forms, which include a declaration of candidacy and a campaign finance report, described in detail at elections.virginia.gov

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