RVA First: A 21st Century Plan for the River City
Do you feel like Richmond takes one step forward and then two steps back? It’s because we do. For too long we have lacked a unified plan to make Richmond City government work for its residents. Our city deserves better. I am running for city council on a platform that will restore common sense to our budgeting process, improve city services, strengthen and improve our public school system and make it easier to start and grow a business.
I have seen first-hand, the operational challenges facing the City of Richmond. As an eight-year veteran of City Hall – fighting for change from the inside- I know the areas where we need improvement.
Transparent City Budget & Finance:
City Hall is the steward of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year – yet we have seen examples of mismanagement, waste, and inefficiency. The City of Richmond’s debt capacity is almost maxed out, our finance system is ineffective, and our budgeting process lacks accountability.
Richmond residents deserve a competent and transparent budgeting process so they can be involved in how their leaders are spending their money and to ensure that every dollar spent is going towards improving our city. To achieve this I will fight to:
- Make the annual budget available to city residents prior to its passage – enabling citizens to provide input, knowledge, and to be involved in the process
- Create monthly tracking system for key expenses and expenditures for key to ensure fiscal accountability
- Coordinate and compare with peer cities their supplemental and complimentary budgets through grants, donations, and partnership to expand the buying power of the City of Richmond
Putting Small Businesses First:
In Richmond – we support our locally owned businesses first. This is one of the most attractive aspects of our city’s culture. Richmond’s entrepreneurial spirit was the foundation on which our city was built, and the First District is a key part of this foundation.
If you ask most Richmond business owners what the most difficult part of running their business is – their answer typically includes dealing with City Hall. This is unacceptable. It is our small businesses that generate and expand our new tax revenues, create jobs, and support the local economy. To help our small businesses I will fight to:
- Create an online Business Portal to request and track city services and information
- Create a one stop shop for new businesses that is streamlined, easy to follow, and accountable for needs and expectations on both sides
- Emphasize online payments for businesses as a part of doing business
- If you have ever filed for a building permit, dealt with certificates of zoning, or had an inspection issue – you know we need to fix Room 110 at City Hall.
These processes are cumbersome and lack transparency. We must fix this and provide our businesses with efficient and competent services
Improving Our Public Schools:
The best economic driver for any city is a strong public education system. Not only do strong public schools prepare our children for their future, they attract families to our neighborhoods and help keep them there. Richmond has suffered from decades of disinvestment in our schools. We have seen this in the First District as many young professionals move into our community only to move away once their children enter into our public schools. As someone who benefitted from Virginia’s public education system – it is my goal to utilize my experience to improve First District schools by building relationships, strengthening the community’s involvement, and improving accountability. To accomplish this I pledge to:
- Visit Mary Munford, Albert Hill, and Thomas Jefferson once a month
- Meet with school leadership to discuss needs and priorities
- Meet with teachers to discuss classroom necessities
- Speak with students and their parents
- Monthly meeting with First District School Board representative
- Discuss progress, next steps, priorities, and needs
- Create dynamic public reporting of progress and improvement in Richmond Public Schools
- Visit each RPS school once per year
- Only way to make a strong and impactful budget to support the advancement of our public schools is to personally know the issues
Coordinate community strategy conversations to elevate the positive and constructive community involvement in Mary Munford Elementary into Albert Hill Middle
21st Century City Hall:
Richmond City residents just want City Hall to work. We’re tired of the dysfunction. We want our streets paved, potholes filled, and sidewalks repaired. We want to see the grass cut in our parks and around our schools. We want our trash and recycling picked up timely and efficiently. We want our streets plowed when it snows and our streets cleaned when they are supposed to be. We deserve competent, efficient, and transparent city services. To achieve this I will fight to:
- Build monthly accountability and performance reporting on street paving, pothole repairs, and sidewalk repairs
- Lead the creation of a citizen focused online portal to make payments, find accurate information about services online
- Leaf collection, snow removal, and pothole budgeting will be designed to support year-round operations
- Digital Front Door to city services and information – the city needs to make available online accurate, timely, and accountable information about city services with clear expectations that is available to all residents
We face some real challenges in improving our city. For too long we have had leadership and a government that lacks transparency, accountability and hasn’t been good stewards of our city’s resources. It is time for leaders that fight to help our businesses grow and create new jobs, cut the bureaucracy and red tape, deliver quality and accountable city services and strengthen our public schools for all of our children.
I want to see Richmond become a 21st Century City where young families come to raise their family and advance their careers. I believe Richmond’s best days are ahead of us and I will fight to secure this future. Please join me in my campaign – and let’s put RVA First!
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