Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mayor Stoney visits Richmond Animal Care & Control

Mayor Stoney visits Richmond Animal Care & Control shelter to congratulate staff on 89% save rate and 1,800 animals adopted in 2016!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mayor Levar M. Stoney Announces Administration Appointments

Mayor Levar M. Stoney is pleased to announce the following appointments:

Jon Baliles, Senior Policy Advisor for Innovation

In his role, Jon will help the Mayor improve the efficiency and accountability of government operations, increase the city’s economic vitality and growth, and help chart a course for planning the future of our neighborhoods and commercial areas.

Over the course of the last decade, Jon has had the unique experience of serving in all three branches of city government and across multiple departments. He was hired by Mayor Wilder in February 2008 and later served as the Assistant to the Director of Planning and Development Review from January 2009 - July 2012. He resigned his position to successfully run for City Council and served in that capacity from 2013 - 2016.

“Jon brings with him a deep knowledge of City Hall and Richmond and will be an invaluable asset in helping us transform the expectations of city government,” said Mayor Stoney.

In addition to his city service, Jon is also co-founder of the RVA Street Art Festival with local artist Ed Trask and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a Master’s Degree from George Mason University.

Lisa Speller-Davis, Senior Policy Advisor for Engagement

Lisa will work to build and sustain meaningful relationships with community groups, and the public, to ensure thorough input into decisions that shape our community, in areas such as education, community wealth building, human services, transportation and strengthening regional ties.

“Lisa will play a pivotal role in ensuring that our city becomes One Richmond – a city that works for all, regardless of zip code,” said Mayor Stoney. “Lisa will ensure all relevant stakeholders have the opportunity to contribute to the development of plans and policies that shape our future.”

Lisa is a Registered Nurse, with a diverse background in community–based care, patient care services and in marketing and health education with the managed health care industry in Richmond. As a part of her passion for civic engagement, Lisa started a not-for-profit organization, Community Empowerment Alliance, with a mission to help those most in need by providing access to community resources around the eradication of poverty and the importance of civic engagement through community education.

Lisa attended both Virginia State University and J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College to complete her education as a Registered Nurse. Lisa is also a graduate of the 2016 Class of Emerge Virginia and serves on the boards of NARAL Virginia and Virginia Nurses’ Association.

Dr. Thad Williamson, Senior Policy Advisor for Opportunity

Dr. Williamson is an Associate Professor of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, where he has taught since 2005. His academic work and teaching focuses on social justice, urban politics, and leadership.

Dr. Williamson was lead author of the 2013 Mayor's Anti-Poverty Commission Report and from 2014 - 2016 he served the City of Richmond as the first director of the Office of Community Wealth Building. He also served as Transition Director for Mayor Stoney.

“Thad’s experience and expertise will be critical to our efforts to provide better education and opportunity for our children, and to help lift Richmond out of poverty,” said Mayor Stoney.

He is author, co-author or co-editor of six books, including Sprawl, Justice, and Citizenship: The Civic Costs of the American Way of Life, and numerous book chapters and articles for academic and popular publications. Dr. Williamson holds a bachelor's degree in history and religious studies from Brown University, a master's degree in religion from Union Theological Seminary (New York), and a doctorate in political science from Harvard University. He and his wife, Dr. Adria Scharf, are parents of a fourth grader in Richmond Public Schools.

Rushawna Senior, Senior Assistant to the Mayor

Prior to her appointment, Rushawna served as a Policy Analyst and Legislative Coordinator to Governor Terence R. McAuliffe focusing on Public Safety and Homeland Security as well as Defense and Veteran Affairs issues. She has also served as an Assistant Program Coordinator for the Department of Motor Vehicles while being a drilling reservist in the Army National Guard as a Human Resources Specialist.

“Rushawna’s organizational skills and experience are essential to our ability to have a high-functioning and responsive Mayor’s Office,” said Stoney.

Rushawna graduated from Old Dominion University with her Bachelors of Science in Communication, and is receiving her Master’s in Public Administration from Virginia Tech.

Friday, January 13, 2017

To Improve Schools, Let’s Work Together

The success of Richmond Public Schools, its students, and its families is critically important to the City of Richmond and will be a top priority in my mayoral administration. Voters in 2016 made it very clear that they want their leaders to prioritize education, and that they want to see public officials collaborate to support schools. 

Richmond Public Schools face many challenges, none more so than the impact of poverty on both our neighborhoods and our children’s ability to learn. We therefore must take a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of children and their families, inside and outside of the classroom, in order to succeed in our effort to improve educational outcomes and reduce poverty in the City of Richmond. 

This goal — to improve educational outcomes and reduce poverty — is challenging on its own, but it is even more challenging in a climate of scarce resources. About two in five children in the City live in poverty, and nearly four in five RPS students are classified as low-income. Helping these children reach their innate potential often requires extra support and attention. Yet resources in the City are limited: state funding has been flat in recent years, the statewide funding formula disadvantages Richmond, and the City itself has other critical needs such as infrastructure and public safety. 

Success thus demands that the Mayor, City Council, and School Board work together to establish not only clear goals and associated measures of accountability, but also a shared understanding of what resources are necessary to accomplish those goals. As we’ve learned over the past few years, without a commitment to work together towards common goals using a common plan, we have no hope of making durable progress or meeting all our funding needs. 

I am confident that we have an historic opportunity to permanently transform the City of Richmond if we are willing to work together, make difficult compromises when necessary, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to fight for the future of our City’s children. As Mayor, I aim to support Richmond Public Schools so that we have a school system that provides a top-tier education to all of our children, especially those who face extra challenges due to poverty. 

Past Mayors have criticized the shortcomings of Richmond Public Schools and tried various approaches to influence the actions of schools. As Mayor, I am trying something different. Rather than pit the needs of schools against the needs of other agencies in city government, I will lead the City to work collaboratively with RPS in a way that addresses the whole child. 

That means that we must pay attention to critical needs within RPS, like recruiting and compensating great leaders for our schools and classrooms. It also means that we must pay attention to strong support services, to after-school and summertime programs, and to what is going on at home.
It means that we must not only engage parents and families, but also ways for parents and families to further their own education and bolster their own careers. It means that we have to invest in public safety, and it means that all those who interact with children in Richmond understand the history of our community and the impact of trauma on many kids. 

It means we have to cultivate hope, high expectations, and high self-worth, for all our kids and all our families.

I call my approach the “Education Compact.” At its most basic level, the Education Compact is an agreement among the Mayor, City Council and the School Board to work together on a shared vision to improve outcomes for Richmond’s children and families. The substance of the Compact will include articulated goals, metrics for success, and measures of accountability. It will also include commitments to regularly communicate, to build and sustain trust, and to seek opportunities for cooperation. And it will include the development of a framework to ensure that we meet the long-term financial needs of schools and families.

I do not expect the Compact, by itself, to solve all problems or to prevent all disagreement. Rather, I expect the Compact to set the terms of a healthy civic discussion, based on this simple premise: all elected officials in Richmond have an interest in seeing schools succeed, and children and families thrive.

I applaud the statement adopted last week by the Richmond School Board in support of developing an Education Compact, as well as the supportive remarks made by City Council President Chris Hilbert and Vice-President Cynthia Newbille. I look forward to working closely with both bodies both in the next two months and over the longer term to develop and institutionalize the Education Compact.
I am committed as Mayor, and hereby commit my administration, to developing a healthy collaborative relationship with both the School Board and City Council. This is what our citizens expect and what our children need, and it’s the only way to attain sustainable success. 

Let’s make it happen!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Mayor Levar M. Stoney

Levar M. Stoney was sworn in as Richmond's 80th mayor Saturday, Dec. 31 in a ceremony at City Hall in City Council chambers.
Mayor Stoney, Richmond's youngest ever mayor at age 35, was sworn in by Judge David M. Hicks in a brief ceremony that was officiated by the Rev. Tyrone Nelson and attended by members of his extended family and close friends, as well as members of City Council and Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his wife, Dorothy.

In personal remarks following his swearing-in, the Mayor paid tribute to his late father and grandmother and thanked all the extended family members, teachers, coaches and mentors who have inspired him growing up and during his career in public service.

"These are people I consider my family," the Mayor said. "And I think moving forward today, the city of Richmond is my family."

"There is no secret formula to this, no secret recipe, but to work hard to every single day and pour my time, my energy, my life into everything I do," the Mayor continued.

"That's the way that my father wanted it, my grandmother wanted it, and that's the only way I know how to do it.

"I am humbled by this opportunity to lead our city and grateful for many, many children who look like me, who have similar circumstances I have, who may never get this opportunity," the Mayor said.

"I think it's our job to ensure that they all have an opportunity to rise to that occasion. I know, God willing, you all will help me ensure that they get that opportunity. Thank you all so much.

"Let's make it happen."