Jackson Rebraca, Contributing Writer
After last week’s elections, many familiar faces are expected to maintain power in Richmond’s political sphere. The city’s mayor declared victory in his reelection campaign, and six city council members are projected to return to their seats.
Mayor Levar Stoney is expected to secure his second term, leading against Richmond Councilwoman Kim Gray and candidate Alexsis Rodgers by a 10-point margin in unofficial election results on Tuesday.
“To get another four years to complete the work, as I’ve stated in the past, is the greatest honor of my life,” Stoney said in a Nov. 4 press conference.
To win the office, mayoral candidates must win five out of nine city districts regardless of the popular vote. As of Tuesday, Stoney had a majority of votes in districts 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
Stoney’s campaign emphasized his political experience in contrast to that of his challengers, who all were seeking a first mayoral term.
During his second term, Stoney plans for the construction of at least one school in Richmond’s Southside. However, the city council’s five-year budget does not include construction for schools until 2024. Stoney intends to transform public housing, overhauling existing housing projects and erecting 10,000 new units of affordable housing by 2030.
Stoney faced criticism during his first term as mayor concerning his proposed Navy Hill development, which was shot down by city council in February.
Stoney also faced backlash for his handling of summer protests against police brutality. Rodgers and many other citizens criticized his authorization of the Richmond Police Department’s use of tear gas and other weapons against protesters.
In the 1st District, incumbent Andreas Addison is projected to enter his second term on Richmond City Council with 48.3% of the area’s vote. Addison’s campaign focused on increasing funds for Richmond Public Schools and the greater Richmond community to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
“I am honored to have earned your support to serve the First District on City Council. Now it’s time to make our vision a reality.” — Andreas Addison, 1st District Councilman
Challenger Mike Gray has received 38.2% of the vote, and Michael Dickinson received 12.7% of the vote in unofficial election results.
The 2nd District was a tightly contested race between Democrats Tavarris Spinks and Katherine Jordan, at one point showing Spinks ahead by just 26 votes. As of Tuesday night, Jordan has received 54.3% of votes, and Spinks has received 45%. The seat was left open when Gray did not seek reelection in mayoral pursuits.
Both candidates promoted policies to address racial inequity in Richmond. Jordan outlined redlining and underfunded public education as two primary areas of concern. “Redlining” was coined to describe the Federal Housing Administration’s practice of refusing mortgages in and near primarily African American neighborhoods. Spinks also said public housing could be improved by lowering the eviction rate and other strategies.
Ann-Frances Lambert is expected to win the 3rd District seat by capturing 37.1% of the vote. Challenger Elaine Summerfield has secured 35.2% and Willie Edward Hilliard has received 27.1% of the vote. This would be Lambert’s first term on the council, replacing long-standing member Chris Hilbert, who did not seek reelection.
Kristen Nye Larson ran uncontested in the 4th District to secure her second term on city council. Larson emphasized rebalancing the city’s budget and investing money into local businesses amid COVID-19.
Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch is projected to win the 5th District seat with 57.6% of the vote, coming one year after she won a special election to replace former councilman Parker Agelasto, who moved out of the district.
Lynch said the housing crisis, exacerbated by the coronavirus, was her top priority this term. She plans to put $300,000 in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and create tax breaks for longtime Richmond residents in order to combat gentrification.
“We have accomplished a lot together in a short time, but the last few months have laid bare the ongoing systemic injustices in Richmond,” Lynch’s website states. “Our city is facing a dual economic and health crisis– a severe budget shortfall, struggling local businesses, thousands out of work, and an ongoing pandemic that is disproportionately affecting Black residents.”
One of her challengers, Jer’Mykeal McCoy, said he wants to expand community health initiatives in order to get on the road to economic recovery. McCoy has received 21.8% of the vote, and candidates Mamie Taylor and Nicholas Da Silva have received 11% and 9%, respectively.
In the 6th District, longtime city council member Ellen Robertson is expected to enter her fifth term over challenger Allan-Charles Chipman. Robertson has received 63.2% of the vote to Chipman’s 36.3%.
Robertson’s plans include addressing food accessibility and racial equity. Chipman, a progressive, outlined the housing crisis as the main challenge facing the 6th District.
“During this campaign, I heard from so many about the challenges that we have to overcome: COVID-19, childcare, affordable housing, equity and so many other things,” Robertson said in a Facebook post. “There is considerable work to be done, and I know we will get it done.”
In the 7th District, Richmond City Council President Cynthia Newbille is projected to win her fourth term and has secured 61.2% of the vote. Her challenger, Joseph Rogers, has received 38.2%.
Newbille highlighted COVID-19’s disproportionate effects on African American communities as the focus of her coming term. She planned to give residents personal protective equipment and housing assistance. Rogers’ campaign focused on police brutality, supporting the Marcus Alert — which would send mental health experts into the field with police responding to individual crises — and banning the use of tear gas as a form of crowd control.
“I look forward to the collective work across the District over the next 4 years,” Newbille said in a Nov. 5 Facebook post. “Thank you to families of the East End, volunteers, contributors and partners.”
In the 8th District, Councilwoman Reva Trammell is expected to win her sixth term on city council with 51.6% of the vote. Challenger Amy Wentz has received 40.8% of votes, and Regie Ford has received 7.5%.
“As we work together through these unprecedented, ever-changing, and revolutionary times, we must continue to think of ways to improve our communities, listen to new ideas and perspectives, and break through challenges,” Trammell said on Facebook ahead of the election.
Councilman Michael Jones ran uncontested in the 9th District, securing his second term on the Richmond City Council.
Jones emphasized housing ownership for Black and brown communities as a priority for his term, as well as addressing police brutality. This year, Jones and Lynch co-sponsored a resolution to ban the use of tear gas as a form of crowd control. The resolution failed in committee last month.
“I want to thank everyone who voted,” Jones said in a Facebook post. “We have work to do and I can’t wait to continue to bring change to our neighborhoods.”
Election results were obtained from the Virginia Department of Elections and have not been certified. Follow election results at commonwealthtimes.org.