Former secretary of the commonwealth Levar Stoney is endorsed by two previous mayors

Former Richmond mayors Henry Marsh and Rudy McCollum endorsed Levar Stoney’s bid for mayor at a news conference held Tuesday morning in Church Hill.

Marsh, 82, served as the city’s first African-American mayor from 1977 to 1982. He also served in the Virginia General Assembly from 1992 to June 2014, when he retired. In its next mayor, Marsh said, Richmond needs someone who can bring the city together, not a fighter — a swipe at front-runner Joe Morrissey.

“I’m convinced that [Stoney] can help make our city great. He has demonstrated first that he is the candidate best suited to unite our city and be a voice for all Richmonders — not some, but all,” Marsh said. “His aspirational vision, his broad appeal and commitment to Richmond families make him an exceptional mayor and a dynamic leader."

McCollum was elected to Richmond City Council in 1996. In 2001, he succeeded Tim Kaine as the council-elected mayor, a role he held through 2004. He ran unsuccessfully against L. Douglas Wilder in the city’s first at-large mayoral election after the 2003 charter change. On Tuesday, McCollum called Stoney “an inspiring figure and exemplary member of our community.”

“Who we choose as our next mayor will be a definitive moment in our city’s history that will shape the of course of our future for years to come,” he said. “Levar Stoney is the only candidate who has the ability to unite our citizens, take our city to the next level and ensure a better future for our children.”

The endorsements come with two weeks remaining in the race. A recent pollshowed Stoney running third citywide in the field of seven candidates with 15 percent of the vote, though he was second in all nine districts. He trails Morrissey, a former commonwealth’s attorney and state delegate, and Jack Berry, a former Venture Richmond executive who picked up an endorsement from the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board over the weekend and another from former City Council member Chuck Richardson on Monday. The same poll showed nearly 40 percent of likely voters were undecided.

“I think a lot of folks in this race have decided who they’re not going to vote for, but folks need to decide who is an individual they can be proud of moving forward, and I think that’s this campaign right here,” Stoney said.

In the last week, Stoney’s campaign sent out negative mailers targeting Morrissey and Berry. The first references three instances when Morrissey was indicted on bribery charges during his career. The latter references a task force Berry served on that recommended cutting more than $23 million from the Richmond Public Schools budget proposal back in 2012.

The mailers represent a departure from Stoney’s focus on his personal story, vision for the city and plans if elected. Asked about the shift in strategy, Stoney said his opponents’ records “speak for themselves.”

“Individuals in this city, voters who going to the polls on Nov. 8 need to know where some of our opponents stand, and we have no problem highlighting such,” he said.

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