About the Race
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About the Race
Richmond’s mayoral election is held on November 3, 2020, in conjunction with the U.S. presidential election. Progressive activist Alexsis Rodgers is running against fellow progressive candidate Justin Griffin, as well as incumbent Mayor Levar Stoney, Tracey McLean, and 2nd District City Council representative Kim Gray.
About the District
Richmond is an independent city and the Commonwealth’s capital. It lies on the fall line of the James River between Chesterfield and Henrico counties. Richmond City’s population is roughly 200,000, although the greater metro area has a population of over 1 million. The city trends Democratic, with Hillary Clinton winning over 75% of the vote in 2016.
Alexsis Rodgers is the current state director of Care in Action, a policy and advocacy group for Virginia’s female domestic workers. Rodgers previously served as the communications director for Virginia’s League of Planned Parenthood. She is the board chair of Emerge Virginia, an organization that trains Democratic women to run for office in Virginia.
Rodgers has a demonstrated commitment to progressive values. During her time with Planned Parenthood, she worked to expand Medicaid and increase access to birth control throughout the Commonwealth. With Care in Action, she was instrumental in making Virginia the first southern state to create labor protections for domestic workers by leading advocacy efforts on the Virginia Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.
In addition to her advocacy, Rodgers also has experience working with elected leadership. She served as the policy director in Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor’s office, where she did extensive work on reproductive justice, behavioral health, and early childhood education.
Rodgers’ platform focuses on ensuring that all Richmond residents have access to safe, affordable housing, reducing the size and scope of policing, finding innovative ways to fully fund Richmond’s public schools, and keeping the government of Richmond accountable to its residents.
Rodgers has been openly critical of the Richmond Police Department’s response to protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Mayor Levar Stoney, the incumbent, was elected in 2016. His most widely-criticized effort as leader of the city involved attempting to force through the Navy Hill Development project, a massive redevelopment plan for the Navy Hill district which was spearheaded and led by Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell. He was opposed by grassroots organizations for the project’s lack of transparency in spite of the fact that it used taxpayer-funded subsidies. Stoney faced criticism for not reacting quickly enough to Richmond Police Department’s excessive use against protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death and for being indecisive about removing Confederate monuments from the city. Stoney dealt with backlash for not properly vetting the replacement of the Richmond police chief, who was removed in 2020 over his handling of protests.
Also vying for mayor is 2nd District City Council Member Kim Gray. Her platform only goes into specific detail on public safety and education. It does not address systemic racial disparities or injustices in regard to either issue. Gray does not share Rodgers’ demonstrated commitment to progressive values, once comparing Black Lives Matter protesters to terrorists. She voted against a proposed study on shifting resources away from the Richmond Police Department but voted in favor of a civilian oversight board and Marcus Alert system, which would have mental health professionals respond to crises instead of police.
Candidate Justin Griffin is a progressive activist who launched the “No Coliseum” campaign against the Navy Hill development. He has extensive experience working with small businesses and has been a leading voice in the demand for transparency from Richmond’s government. Griffin is also running on a robust platform of progressive reform. However, he has less experience working in government and less progressive goals than Rodgers.
Candidate Tracey McLean is a local Richmond author and the CEO of Adyme publishing. She is also a cast member of a CW reality TV show, The Real Babymamas of VA. McLean’s platform focuses on unity and transparency, but is less defined and detailed than Rodgers’. McLean does not share Rodgers’ extensive history of commitment to progressive values and advocacy, although she does support a proposal by local activists to transform parking lots in Shockoe Bottom into a slave memorial park.
The sixth contender for Richmond mayor is economist Michael Gilbert. He is running his campaign on three pillars: economic development and public education, policing and criminal justice reform, and improving community, health, and social services. He supports the creation of a civilian review board with subpoena power, the implementation of a 'Marcus Alert' system, ending qualified immunity for police, and imposing mandatory implicit bias testing of all current and potential officers. While Gilbert does have a progressive platform, his campaign has failed to gain traction in the community and he hasn’t raised any money for his effort.
Due to her unrelenting commitment to progressive values and detailed progressive platform, Alexsis Rodgers is the most progressive choice in this race.
About the Race