Our Vision for RVA.
Making Richmond a Safer City for All.
As Mayor, I will make decisions based purely on what makes Richmond a safer, more inclusive, and equitable city. I will not make decisions based on political ambitions. I will not sacrifice good police officers for the sake of appearances. I will hold every city employee accountable and I will set an example of principled, servant leadership.
I support the creation of a Citizen Advisory Board, the institution of a “Marcus Alert” system, the strengthening of statewide and local standards of conduct, and the elimination of certain mandatory sentences that have led to a racially biased corrections system. All reform considerations that will strengthen and improve a community based policing organization.
How Did We Get Here?
Richmond has a long history of community policing, and our city has been fortunate enough to have strong police leadership and caring police officers. But we can do better. We can resolve that we will do everything possible to prevent the failures in Minneapolis, and so many cities, from happening here. Like any profession, there are bad actors in law enforcement; it is our job to weed out those who do not respect the communities they are sworn to serve.
We can start by heeding the requests of the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Program (RTAP). Unfortunately, the current Administration has ignored those requests for several years and refused to engage in dialog on the meaningful recommendations RTAP has made.
I will restore that dialogue, rebuild the relationship, and make sure transparency is paramount so that we re-establish trust with our public safety sector while at the same time tackling the crime and violence that plague our community.
Immediate Actions: Understand What Has Happened in Richmond and How Can We Improve.
A new mayor can start to rebuild community trust and, most importantly, protect our citizens from all forms of violence and intimidation—the continuing prevalence of gun, domestic and workplace violence.
We will systematically ensure that these goals are achieved without the inappropriate or excessive use of force by our officers by:
- Establishing an independent review of the Police Department and related agencies’ responses to the June/July civil unrest with a public report and recommendations—we need to know exactly how command decisions were made and by whom and correct any flaws identified in our system
- Conducting a thorough review and update of all policies of the Police - not just to meet Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies standards, but also to define Internal Affairs investigations on officer use of force
- Appointing and hiring decision makers and agents of change in key positions across the Police Department and other public safety agencies, consistent with the above three reviews
- Developing an improved early warning system of officer issues and Internal Affairs investigations, including changes to the officer appeals system for firings and separations
- Incentivizing a full-time officer program that includes training on mentoring, implicit bias, accountability, and creation of a program like the Ethical Policing Is Contagious (EPIC) program in New Orleans so our full-time officers who are critical to the development of young officers and department culture reflect new and improved values in policing
Protecting Our Citizens from Violence and Intimidation.
While we work through the above midterm issues, we need to remind ourselves that the public safety system is more than Police. It also includes our courts and legal systems, corrections, and a surprisingly large number of human service agencies.
We also need to remember that protecting public safety in Richmond requires protection of all citizens from gun violence and intimidation, from domestic violence and intimidation, and, more recently, from workplace violence and intimidation.
None of these problems can be addressed without understanding the impact of mental illness, addiction, abusive family histories, homelessness, displaced communities, and other issues that contribute to our public safety challenges. Fragile individuals and communities are too often the victims of crime, and we can help protect them through a variety of efforts, including outreach and community-level presence in our public housing; concerted outreach and listening to our growing Latinx communities, and better integration of policing with mental health, homeless and substance abuse intervention services.
I will propose the formation of a new multi-departmental team/program that combines employees from Police, Fire, EMT’s, Social Services, Behavioral Health, Center for Workforce Innovation, and other departments that work together as a mobile and responsive social and safety team.
The team will respond to crimes, family disputes, suicidal intentions, mental health episodes, and many other community issues.
Immediate Action. Making Virtual Learning Work for All.
The School Board has decided on a virtual school opening in September. “As a two-term former member of the Richmond School Board and a mother of two current RPS students and five graduates of Richmond Public Schools, we have no more important task than to make virtual learning work for ALL Richmond Public School students, teachers and families.”
For the foreseeable future, City Council, the Mayor and the Community need to achieve four outcomes:
That 100% of RPS students have a functioning computer or comparable internet access at home
That adequate broadband access is available to all RPS families, including in public housing and low-income communities
That adequate funding is made available to ensure that RPS teachers and staff have the training to effectively teach and reach students through internet technologies, and
That additional services are provided for students with special needs, students from second-language households, and students with learning disabilities
Medium Term. Need for Innovation and Community Support.
“As the primary caregiver for two young RPS students and an elected official, I acknowledge that many of our RPS students may have lost as much as three to six months of educational development last year. We cannot afford another semester or another year of lost educational opportunity!”
The City needs to provide additional assistance to guarantee that Richmond Public Schools will adapt to the post-COVID educational environment and its likely long-term revenue impacts. In the medium term, these adaptive measures could include community-based “Saturday Academies” to recapture lost teaching time, and using public facilities for wi-fi access and technology support for parents, caregivers, and human service providers as part of a WHOLE FAMILY approach to education.
A Long-Term Vision for Educational Success in Richmond
“My eight years on School Board and four years on Council have been dedicated to improving public education in Richmond. The vision and educational reality we seek is simple: a qualified and properly supported teacher in front of every classroom, in a school that meets all state and federal performance and standards (whether that classroom or school is virtual or physical).”
The new Mayor cannot do that alone, but she can help make that vision a reality in three ways:
Develop a regional approach to students with special needs, similar to the Governor’s Schools. Working together as a region will bring us the expertise and resources to support and properly educate ALL students. Especially those students with learning disabilities, students from abusive or broken family situations, or students affected by homelessness, violence or concentrated poverty. “I have walked the walk with scores of families, teachers and students, who were dealing with homelessness to ADHD to parental addiction. These children are not a burden; each is an opportunity.”
Create a stable budget and funding relationship between the School Board and the City. Many localities have developed a revenue sharing approach that allows a school division to proportionately share revenue growth and revenue risk with the local governing body. “It’s time to end the annual guessing game among the Schools, City Council and the Mayor. If we have a ‘needs based budget,’ why do we have so many unmet needs?”
- Fix the unsafe, unsanitary, and unhealthy school buildings that are the product of bureaucratic neglect, institutionalized racism, and political finger pointing. “We were promised five, then four, schools by the current Mayor; we got three. The current Mayor promised that the tax increase on restaurants would allow new schools to be built without affecting the City budget or capital program; he was wrong. The current Mayor’s quick fix tax for schools has huge liabilities for the City and for our restaurant industry as it struggles to reopen and to survive.”