Friday, August 29, 2008

Richmond Mayor's Race '08

Richmond Mayor’s Race Is On
Five mayoral hopefuls agree to candidate forum series.

The five men vying to become Richmond’s next mayor have agreed to engage in a three-part series of candidate forums kicking off Sept. 23.

The series, “Richmond Decision ’08,” is in response to the intense interest in this election by Richmond citizens, as well as many community groups, neighborhood associations and special-interest organizations.

The forums are produced by The League of Women Voters and Style Weekly, with the support of a diverse group of community organizations: Alliance for the Performing Arts, Arts Council of Richmond, Downtown Neighborhood Association, Homeward, OPUS, Partnership for Smarter Growth, Falls of the James Sierra Club, Venture Richmond and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

“Voters are eager to hear side-by-side discussions by the mayoral candidates on a broad range of significant issues facing the community,” Style Weekly Editor Jason Roop says. “This is an unprecedented opportunity for that discussion. Who will replace Mayor L. Douglas Wilder?”

Roop will moderate the series, during which a panel of three journalists representing a variety of local media will pose questions to the candidates. The format is designed to give each candidate a fair, engaging platform to present his views.

The three forums are scheduled as follows:

Forum I: The Future of Downtown Richmond, Sept. 23
The Renaissance Conference Center, 107 W. Broad St.
Topics to include development, revitalization, city services and the master plan.

Forum II: Living and Working in Richmond, Oct. 14
Virginia Historical Society, 428 N. Boulevard
Topics to include growth, safety, environmentalism, housing, health care and workforce issues.

Forum III: Arts, Culture and Education, Oct. 28
The Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St.
Topics to include the area’s arts and culture and Richmond Public Schools.

Each event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., with the candidate forum starting between 6 and 6:15. The program will run no longer than 8 p.m.
In addition, voter registration tables will be active at the event in order to increase citizen participation in the democratic process.

Forums are open to the public, although space is limited.

The panel for the Sept. 23 forum will consist of Edwin Slipek Jr., architecture critic and senior contributing editor at Style Weekly; Aaron Gilchrist, anchor at NBC 12; and Jimmy Barrett of WRVA’s “Richmond’s Morning News.”

The five candidates for mayor are:

• Paul Goldman is a former adviser and now frequent critic of Mayor L. Douglas Wilder. He was a key proponent and grassroots advocate of the city’s charter change to an elected-mayor form of government.

• Robert J. Grey Jr., former president of the American Bar Association, is a partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams. He’s also served as chairman of Mayor L. Douglas Wilder’s Committee on the Performing Arts.

• Dwight C. Jones, the pastor of First Baptist Church in South Richmond, is a Democratic state delegate for the 70th District in the General Assembly. He’s previously served as chairman of the Richmond School Board.

• William J. “Bill” Pantele is a private attorney who serves as City Council President, and has been a frequent voice in opposition to Mayor L. Douglas Wilder. He has represented the 2nd District on City Council for seven years.

• Lawrence E. Williams Sr., a previous candidate to represent the 6th District on City Council, owns his own architectural practice and has worked with several community development corporations.

Jason Roop
Style Weekly

1313 E. Main St., Suite 103
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 358-0825, ext. 323

1 comment:

Scott said...

quote Don Harrison of

"At any time, the mayor and/or city council could introduce a motion requiring basic transparency. At any time, the $500,000 a year subsidy could be shared with the worthier arts endeavors, like First Friday Artwalk, or taken away entirely. Let's not even talk about the precedent the whole smelly deal sets. Should a public-private entity that has already wasted $10 million in public funds be given a blank check for the next two decades? Should $60+ million publicly-financed projects be allowed to go through without a single independent feasibility study? Without even one advertised public meeting? Should publicly-financed projects be required to share their financials with the taxpayers footing the bills?"

These questions are not going to go away. As it stands, Center Stage will continue to be a drain on City coffers for decades to come. Katz, the previous director of the Carpenter Center, was able to keep things somewhat sustainable by booking pop acts in between the SOB (symphony, opera, ballet) dates. Now, the National or Toad's Place, or a half a dozen other venues are more likely to get those pop acts. Center Stage is doomed to be underused, under-booked, and under-financed with no return on investment.

If I am going to vote for any of you, I need to know what your standard of accountability is. Wilder got my vote last election cycle in part by saying he would hold this project accountable, then turned around and let it pass through with Grey/Pantele's help and urging. It was disgusting and irresponsible that this white elephant was pushed through while not a single new school was started last year, and the school ADA budget was cut. We all know how neighborhood projects were left lacking.

Now I understand that the Center Stage may even still be popular among citizens who are ignorant or uncaring about the true financial costs and opportunity costs, but as elected leaders I expect you to lead, educate, and make independent decisions for the good of the City and ALL of its citizens.

I would like to know if any of you, having been elected, will make a motion that requires the Center Stage project to become more transparent and accountable.