Richmond mayoral candidates square off in debate

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The eight candidates vying to be Richmond’s next mayor squared off in a debate hosted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch Thursday night.

With Election Day 53 days away, a recent poll suggests that Joe Morrisey leads the field, although many voters remain undecided.

All eight candidates remaining in the race debated inside The Library of Virginia Thursday evening, and at times the event became quite spirited. Topics ranged from the ball park to tackling potholes. Even Joe Morrissey’s personal life came up.

Jack Berry
Jack Berry

“I supported the downtown ball park, make no mistake about it,” said candidate Jack Berry. “I’ve seen it be successful in city’s all over the country, even though I’m a downtown-centric person, and I have been that way for 18 years as a part of my job, I’ve heard the community and I’m not going back there, we’re not having anything to do with that project again.”

“I was offered a bright political future if I supported baseball in Shockoe bottom, and I did what was right because I am a public servant and I am not a politician,” said another candidate Jon Baliles.

“Kurt Schmoke was a great mayor of Baltimore, he had a neon sign in city hall with the total number of potholes total fixed yesterday and total to go. We’ll have one of those over in city hall,” Morrissey proposed.

Morrissey, who served a three-month work release sentence stemming from a relationship with his then 17-year-old secretary, also fielded questions about his controversial personal life.

“There is no question I have had some trials and tribulations and that I have stubbed my toe more than one occasion,” Morrissey said. “I have asked people to look at my body of work.”

Michelle Mosby, who is also running, says she is willing to work with everyone in city government.

“You have to have a gift to work with people, and I have a gift,” Mosby said.

And of course, the candidates took time to jab at one another as well.

“You have been very active in the African-American community, however some voters feel it is more of an exploitation of the black community,” Lawrence E. Williams Sr. said while addressing Morrissey.

“With regard to exploitation I respectfully disagree with your premise,” Morrissey responded.

Levar Stoney came under fire from moderators and his other opponents for what they call a lack of experience.

“With all candor, you’ve never owned a business, you’ve never signed the front of a check, you’ve never taught school, you’ve never cast a vote, you never developed a budget, supplemented a budget, amended a budget, you’ve done a masterful job as being, you’re own words, a political operative,” Morrissey said.

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Stoney responded, “I told you earlier that at age 26 I was the executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Executive director means I was Chief Executive Officer, I hired, I fired, I inspired from the top down, I signed checks. You should know this Mr. Morrissey, when I was a child, 10-years-old, I wrote the checks out for my grandmother.”

If you missed Thursday’s debate, the Richmond Times Dispatch says they will publish the full transcript sometime in the nexttwo weeks.

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