Mayor Stoney is committed to making Richmond a city that serves everyone regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or background. The Mayor is proud of all of the work his administration has done for Richmonders, but there is much left for Mayor Stoney to accomplish for the residents of Richmond . For the mayor, it’s about finding bold and effective solutions to the issues Richmonders face. That’s why Mayor Stoney hasn’t been afraid to fight for new, state-of-the-art schools, better roads and infrastructure funding, reimagined public safety in our communities, and equity in housing for all Richmonders.
As mayor, Levar Stoney’s top priority during the pandemic has been keeping the people of Richmond safe during the pandemic while supporting the local economy. Levar listened to the scientists and experts, centering their recommendations at the heart of his COVID-19 response. It’s why he was one of the first mayors to immediately focus on testing, tracing infections and isolating those with the virus, even providing hotel rooms for those who couldn’t easily quarantine. When the data indicated Richmond should mandate masks and delay Phase 1 of Virginia’s reopening plan, Mayor Stoney asked Governor Northam for both, and Northam said yes. He provided safety gear to low-income communities, authorized $14 million in funding to assist with rent payments and hold off evictions, offered interest-free small business disaster loans and grants to local businesses, partnered with the YMCA to provide childcare to essential workers, and worked with restaurants to develop expanded outdoor seating and meals for first responders. Additionally, Levar has:
- Secured a $250,000 grant from the Open Society Foundation to provide rent and mortgage assistance to immigrant families
- Requested Governor Northam allow restaurants to serve cocktails to-go
- Created RVAStrong.org to be a resource hub for residents to request and offer assistance
- Requested federal support on behalf of restaurant owners to get the Paycheck Protection Plan fixed to allow more flexibility
- Worked with the Robins Family Foundation to create the Family Crisis Fund which gives families in need $500 reloadable gift cards to help with essential items
- Had the local health district change the reporting structure for COVID-19 data -- breaking down cases by race to understand the effects of the pandemic on our communities of color.
As mayor, Levar has made it his mission to ensure that every RPS student has the same access to a quality education -- no matter the color of their skin or their zip code. That’s why he fought to fund the construction of three new schools serving Black and Brown communities in the East End and Southside. Levar knows how impactful afterschool programs were for him as a child, and so, as promised during his first campaign, every elementary and middle school student in RVA has access to an after-school program. Furthermore, as mayor, Levar invested the most new funds in RPS in over a generation -- over $30 million. He promised reinvestment, new infrastructure, and reform in RPS, and working alongside RPS’s leadership, Levar’s administration has delivered. Promises made. Promises kept.
As mayor, Levar has also:
- Launched a partnership with the private sector to provide all RPS students with free eyeglasses if they can’t afford them
- Successfully lobbied the Northam Administration and General Assembly leadership to increase funding for RPS and K-12 funding throughout the state
- Created the Education Compact, bringing the Mayor’s Office, School Board, and City Council together for the first time ever to make schools the number one priority of Richmond government
As someone who grew up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck, Levar knows just how close too many families are to facing eviction. Affordable housing has been a consistent priority of Levar’s first term. As a result of this work, Levar’s administration exceeded its four year affordable housing goal more than two years ahead of schedule and invested over $3 million into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Levar set up the first-ever of its kind Eviction Diversion Program and Eviction Task Force in Richmond, which prevented over 145 evictions in its first nine months. When CARES Act monies became available, Levar redoubled the city’s commitment to secure housing by allocating over $14 million to the Eviction Diversion program and rental assistance, and he called for a suspension of court eviction cases in Richmond until the COVID-19 crisis subsides.
Levar is committed to Richmond families facing eviction and will continue to:
- Secure additional COVID-19 relief funds to prevent evictions related to the pandemic.
- Advocate for an eviction moratorium through the city courts system until the pandemic has subsided.
- Make city government work better and smarter for development so that affordable housing needs are met across the city.
Policing and Criminal Justice
After the murder of George Floyd, our nation was once again confronted by the deep wounds of structural, systemic racism. Levar knows what it’s like living while Black in America. His administration has tackled the structural causes of racism by implementing a broad range of reforms looking at true equity, including:
- Calling for the establishment of a Civilian Review Board and Crisis Alert (The Marcus Alert)
- Strengthening firearms laws in the city, including a ban of firearms in city buildings and parks
- Calling for the legalization of marijuana and expunging non-violent criminal records
- Strengthening the ban on the use of chokeholds by RPD
- Signing on to the Obama Mayor’s Pledge to reform policing
- Creating a task force to reimagine public safety
Levar has fought for criminal justice reform before the national spotlight was put on Richmond, and he’ll fight for reform even after the spotlight moves off the city.
Diversity and Inclusion
Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy. Instead, Levar sees Richmond as the Capital of Compassion -- one that celebrates everyone. As mayor, Levar has:
- Removed Confederate monuments from city spaces, showing decisive leadership during a time of great pain for Richmonders
- Championed the renaming of the Boulevard in honor of Arthur Ashe
- Announced funding for a new, contextualized Shockoe Bottom Memorial Campus to understand Richmond’s history as a major part in the triangle slave trade
- Declared Richmond a City of Compassion via the Charter for Compassion
- Established the first ever History and Culture Commission
- Consistently championed LGBTQ+ rights by expanding transgender health benefits for city employees, creating the first of its kind Human Rights Commission, sheperding a Conversion Therapy ban resolution, and assigning a LGBTQ+ Liaison in the Mayor’s Office
- Established a workforce development program for returning citizens through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department
Public Transportation and Infrastructure
Levar has championed the GRTC and BRT Pulse for greater equity in public transportation access by all Richmond residents, including expanding service to communities who need it most. This included $785,000 in new bus route enhancements in fiscal year 2020, alone. Levar is also committed to a greener, healthier Richmond by expanding bike lanes, growing Richmond’s bikeshare program, bringing low-cost electric scooters, and committing to a net zero carbon emissions program by 2050. In Mayor Stoney’s first term, the city also made unprecedented investments in Richmond’s roads, increasing the budget for these improvements from just $3 million to over $16 million. This has allowed the Stoney administration to:
- Pave over 500 lane miles of streets
- Fill over 84,000 potholes
- Repair 4700 alleys
- Place more than 10 miles of sidewalks
Sustainability and the Environment
Levar is committed to equity-centered climate action in order to improve the resilience of the Richmond community, especially in our most impacted communities of color. This means aggressively working to reduce the community greenhouse gas emissions and helping the community adapt to Richmond’s climate impact, such as extreme heat. To accomplish this, Levar established the RVAgreen2050 plan in 2017 to develop and implement a roadmap of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to this roadmap, Levar has also:
- Established the Green Team to use an equity and data-centered approach to identify city-owned land to be converted into new green spaces and parks for the first time since the 1970s.
- Developed a first of its kind conservation easement protecting over 260 acres of the James River Park System.
- Joined the Biophilic Cities Network, meaning that the city will focus on accessible nature in which humans and wildlife thrive
- Supported local and state Commercial Property-Assessed Clean Energy programs to assist businesses in improving efficiency and adding solar to their buildings
- Established a Green Fleet Action Plan within the Office of Sustainability to propose a plan for replacing city owned fleet with more environmentally-friendly fleet
- Worked with the Green City Commission to establish a Net Zero Resolution, which established a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2030, and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, all centered in racial equity
City Services and Effective Governance
Levar came into city hall committed to reforming government -- that’s why, In his first 100 days, he completed a performance audit and review of every city department and has restructured departments and brought in new leadership to make government more effective. Levar also launched the Office of Citizen Service and Response which oversees the RVA311 platform and call center. Most importantly, the Mayor has done all of this while the city’s credit rating has increased twice, submitting the CAFR (Comprehensive Audit & Financial Report) on time or early every year, and while finishing the last fiscal year with a $15 million surplus.
Levar understands that a strong economy is the engine that powers our city. That’s why the mayor has proposed bold economic development projects, like the Navy Hill proposal, which would bring over 10,000 new jobs to Richmond and provide $300 million in contracts for Black and Brown businesses. The mayor has also worked with the community on the Richmond 300 and Pulse Corridor Plans, which will see the city zoned for greater economic density, resident and pedestrian walkability , affordable housing in every neighborhood, and increased greenspace. Even as growth has increased in the city, the administration is processing more permits than ever before. With recent upgrades to city technology, many permits can now be processed entirely online.