Less is Morrissey

Mayoral+candidates+face+off+at+the+%22Mayorathon.%22+Photo+courtesy+of+Avery+Gagne.+
Mayoral candidates face off at the

Mayoral candidates face off at the "Mayorathon." Photo courtesy of Avery Gagne.

Mayoral candidates face off at the "Mayorathon." Photo courtesy of Avery Gagne.

Avery Gagne

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The rules of the debate are simple: one minute speaking time per candidate and no attacking your opponents.

 

The Richmond Mayorathon stands as one of the most crucial events of the mayoral election, acting as one of the few opportunities for direct comparison amongst the candidates. The Mayorathon is a different kind of debate, one where candidates cannot attack their opponents, so they must present their own policy and let it stand on its own. It is meant to have the voters focus not on who “won” the debate, but instead evaluate each candidate individually.

 

Joe Morrissey, the current front-runner, emphasized his experience in the General Assembly whenever possible. Due to his connection with the citizens of Henrico and Charles City, Morrissey desires a focus on collaboration with the two counties to improve public transportation not only for the city, but for the entire greater Richmond area. Specifically, he would connect the city to surrounding counties through the currently in-construction BRT line, allowing those who cannot drive to work throughout the entire Greater Richmond area.

 

Morrissey is running a policy-focused campaign with an emphasis on removing the disconnect between the mayor and the citizenry. When asked one-on-one about how he has come past his scandals, he responded by stating “[you] never talk down about your opponents and treat everyone with respect.” He claimed he rose from joke candidate to front runner because “you knock on doors every day, ever since April, and soon people start listening to your message.”Of course this then leads to Venture Richmond director Jack Berry, who had consistently tried to transform the race into a two-man struggle between him and Morrissey. Berry started the night off by immediately breaking the rules of the debate and attacking Morrissey, but began to recover afterwards. Berry differs from the rest of his opponents on many major issues. Berry openly supported the Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium in the past, and believes in prioritizing neighborhood development.

 

When discussing the issue of traffic reforms in the debate itself, Berry agreed that there is too much focus on the automobile, but deviated from his opponents on the issue of normal road reform by stating that we should begin transforming our current one-way roads into two-way roads to increase safety and convenience for Richmond citizens. Berry’s campaign focuses on making himself stand out and becoming the anti-Morrissey decision instead of fading into the rest of the field.

 

The final of the three main candidates is Levar Stoney, whose primary goal in this debate was to legitimize himself as a real contender, and succeeded to those ends. Stoney established himself as the education candidate, dictating in depth a specific education plan. He stated that if the Local Composite Index funding formula, which grants less state funding to areas with higher-valued property, is reformed, Richmond would receive the education funding it needs, allowing it to maintain education facilities but also keep kids off the street.

 

Stoney also bills himself as a candidate that will serve not only the city, but the entire greater Richmond area. In a statement directed towards Maggie Walker students, he stated “Richmond is just the crown jewel of a treasure chest that’s called RVA. When we improve our schools, it makes RVA greater. When we connect our transport, it makes RVA greater. If we work together, we make a stronger city, and a stronger people, for everyone.”

 

The rest of the candidates generally showed why they have unremarkable results in the polls. Jon Baliles was the only true stand out of the rest of the field. He is the only candidate to have actual city government experience, as he served on the city council. Not only that, but when each candidate was asked which opponent they would add as an advisor if elected, the three candidates who didn’t dodge the question said they would select Baliles.

 

Michelle Mosby acted stilted at the debate, avoiding policy and trying to speak in third person to make herself seem relatable. At the end, the only time the audience cheered for her was when she directly asked for applause. Lawrence Williams stated he would turn to communities for every policy question he was asked, thus leaving it unclear what exactly he needed the mayorship for. Finally, Bobby Junes had one goal: to show he was not a joke. Some might say he failed completely, since he claimed his only plan to get the General Assembly to enact his policies was to “personally lead a protest down Broad Street and knock on the door of the state Capitol myself.”

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