Meet the candidate: Joe Morrissey

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Joe Morrissey, the current frontrunner in the Richmond mayoral race, has served as Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney and State Delegate for the 74th District.

His career and life has been punctuated by scandal, public and personal.

He spoke with 8News anchor Juan Conde about both in a recent interview.

Morrissey said for him, the race to be mayor isn’t complicated.

“If you want to say I’m hot-headed, I’d prefer to think I’ve tempered things over the years, but I call it passion representing the little person,” Morrissey said.

“Here’s what I think is going to determine the race,” he said. “People know me.”

The notoriety hasn’t always been positive. The defense attorney was disbarred for several years for fist fights, contempt citations and conduct described by some as “unethical.”

Morrissey defended his actions.

“If you want to say I’m hot-headed, I’d prefer to think I’ve tempered things over the years, but I call it passion representing the little person,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey also served 3 months in jail on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, admitting to a then 17-year-old who worked in his office. The two have since married and now have children.

“I really consider myself the luckiest person in the world,” Morrissey said. “I think Myrna makes me a better person. Hopefully, a good father and a very good husband.”

Now, Morrissey said, he is focused on being a good mayor of Richmond.

“I am going to run this city like a business and for the first time in a long time, everybody, everybody in the city is going to be a stakeholder,” he said.

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This includes improving city schools.

“Our city will only be great when the people want to stay from kindergarten all the way through 12 and not leave when the children are in 5th or 6th grade,” Morrissey said. “As a member of the House Education Committee, I saw well-run school districts and poorly run [districts]. Richmond is in the latter category. I know how to make school districts better. I’m going to demand accountability.”

“I’ve heard several people say, ‘I’m not walking in that project at nighttime.’ Do you know, I can go anywhere in this city and be safe? Everybody knows me!” Morrissey said.

Morrissey also promoted fiscal responsibility.

“I would use that to get back to basic core services: fix the potholes, clear the alleys of rubbish, of bulk materials … trim the trees, pay or first responders and run the city like a business first — without putting money into big shiny projects,” he said.

Morrissey said that believes he would be the best, out of all the candidates running, at promoting unity in a city often divided by class and race.

“You gotta be able to walk in the communities,” he said. “I’ve heard several people say, ‘I’m not walking in that project at nighttime.’ Do you know, I can go anywhere in this city and be safe? Everybody knows me!”

For more mayoral candidate profiles, click here.

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