3 vying to replace former Councilman Baliles in Richmond’s 1st District

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — You may know the candidates hoping to represent your district in Richmond City Council, but do you know about them?

What do they think is the biggest issue in your district? What’s their plan to fix city schools and improve efficiency within city government? 8News asked these questions to every candidate on this year’s ballot in an effort to help you — the voter — decide which one shares in your vision for a better Richmond.

In Richmond’s 1st District, three candidates will be vying for the seat formerly held by Jon Baliles, who vacated it to run for mayor. Baliles withdrew himself from the race less than a week before Election Day in an effort to prevent Joe Morrissey from winning.

Harry Warner, who was the first to put his name on the ticket back in April, is a Richmond native and retired Captain in the U.S. Army who has lived in the 1st District for over three decades.

Joining Warner on the ticket is 32-year-old near West End resident Jonathan Cruise, an IT Project Manager, and Andreas Addisson, a former Civic Innovator for City Hall who moved to Richmond in 2004 and received his MBA from the University of Richmond.

warnerHarry H. Warner

Harry H. Warner, Jr, 55, is a native of Richmond and the First District having lived there over 35 years. Following graduation from Hampden-Sydney College and serving in the U.S. Army as a Captain and AH-1 Cobra pilot, he returned to Richmond in 1989 to work in commercial banking. In 1997 he followed his calling in the nonprofit sector. The last 20 years he has consulted for numerous nonprofits as well as held leadership roles in the Civil War Center at Tredegar and the Virginia War Memorial Educational Foundation. Among his volunteer leadership roles, he served three years on the vestry of St. James’s Episcopal Church, his last year as senior warden; six years on the board of a Richmond homeless shelter; and most recently as Chairman of the Save the Diamond Committee to renovate the city’s current stadium and surrounding areas. He resides in the 1st District with his three children.

What do you feel is the biggest problem in your district and how to you plan to solve it?

Besides the schools that I consistently hear about when meeting people while I’m walking through the district, the 1st District will continue to confront development challenges creating
traffic, parking, and density issues. I will use the planned Master Plan process to tackle all three. I have already talked to the City’s Planning Director, Mark Olinger, and met with the Master Plan Project Manager, Maritza Pechin, to learn about the process and to begin advocating for the district and my goals.

Specifically, what will you do to improve city schools?

We as a community must make our school system competitive with engaging educational programs and opportunities in a safe environment. We must understand that our school system is in a marketplace competing with our sister counties to attract young individuals and families. I will work with the School Board and the Mayor to make the school system a place where we can be proud to send our most important resource, our children. We must right-size the system’s facilities to match the 23,000 students in the system. I will work with the General Assembly to increase the City’s share of the Composite Index to pre-recession levels. I will also work with state legislators and developers about utilizing Historic Tax Credits to renovate antiquated school buildings.

How do you plan to improve efficiency within city government?

When I was in the Army we consistently evaluated all units – from corps level down to the most basic unit, the platoon – through the Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) that described what manpower and equipment is required to meet the mission. This evaluation enabled us to pinpoint problems and operate with supreme effectiveness and efficiency. And it is this type of thinking I want to bring to City Hall. Leadership. Integrity. Experience. These are the characteristics we need to bring real change to Richmond city government.

jonathan-cruiseJonathan M. Cruise

Jonathan Cruise graduated in 2006 from Virginia Tech with a degree in Business Information Technology. Jonathan moved to Arlington, VA, after graduating where he became involved with Volunteer Arlington, which organizes activities such as neighborhood brush pickups and tutoring. Jonathan met his wife, Amanda, in 2010 when they joined the same dodgeball team. Jonathan and Amanda moved to Richmond where they first lived in Shockoe Bottom and later settled into the Malvern Gardens neighborhood. Jonathan is currently an IT Project Manager.

What do you feel is the biggest problem in your district and how to you plan to solve it?

Delivery of city services. Whenever a resident or business makes a request of the city, they should expect the City to be responsive and accountable. I will commit to ensuring that residents and businesses have the ability to interact with the City in a fair, equitable, and predictable way and that requests are acknowledged in a timely manner.

Specifically, what will you do to improve city schools?

I will commit to supporting efforts to establish dedicated funding streams for the City’s schools so that we can eliminate the three months spent every year debating the amount that should be allocated towards the schools’ budget. Also, I will commit to constantly collaborating with and working alongside families, the School Board, and the Mayor’s Office to ensure that schools obtain the resources and financial support they need to help children in Richmond succeed.

How do you plan to improve efficiency within city government?

As a project manager, I have significant experience managing resources to execute and deliver responsibly to achieve a desired set of goals. I will put these skills and expertise to work to engage and collaborate with residents of the 1st District to represent their needs and concerns before City Council. As Councilman, I commit to bringing a full rigor to the city’s projects and policies and will ensure that these decisions are transparent to citizens.

34343Andreas D. Addison

Andreas D. Addison grew up on a farm in Shenandoah County and moved to Richmond after graduating from Virginia Tech in 2004. He received his MBA from the University of Richmond in 2012. He worked as a Civic Innovator at City Hall for eight years and left his job to take his practical experience working with Mayor’s across the country to fight for the change we need on City Council. Andreas plays acoustic guitar with the worship team of Commonwealth Chapel Church, serves on ChamberRVA’s HYPE Leadership Team, founding board member for CodeVirginia, and is on the Richmond Ballet Advisory Council. 

What do you feel is the biggest problem in your district and how to you plan to solve it?

From the many conversations I have had with residents of the First District, there is a recurring theme that reveals itself with each issue the residents want to see fixed. From fixing public schools, having good government services, to maintaining streets and sidewalks, and addressing the recent spike in crime, the biggest problem in the district is accountable government spending and budgeting. These effects are realized due to a lack of transparent and accountable budgeting. It is by seeing our tax dollars at work that we can begin to truly address these issues and needs. As we budget and spend, we need to see accountable government delivery of outcomes from our investment. This is why I will drive an Open Government and Transparency policy to publish the budget online and create monthly reporting of outcomes which is crucial to restoring the public’s trust in City Hall. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and with transparency in our budgeting and finance operations, we can begin to identify the waste and savings needed to properly invest in fixing our school buildings, fully staffing and paying competitively our police force, and paving our streets across our city and in our neighborhoods.

Specifically, what will you do to improve city schools?

It is the role of City Council, to approve the School’s budget. As a steward of our tax payer dollars, I will make it my priority to make sure these funds are spent to improve the areas of improving our school performance. I will pursue maximizing every existing funding source available to support schools, from the General Assembly, Federal Government, to grants and foundation funding. Every dollar owed schools will be identified and given. I will visit monthly with each of the schools in the First District to meet with school leaders, talk with teachers, students, parents and our school board representative, to see the buildings, observe the classrooms, and to see the status of fixing our needs and priorities. It is by building these relationships through intentional engagement that we can begin to truly advance the quality of our schools. I will visit each school in the city to be able to make data driven decisions for the budgeting needs and priorities that improve all schools. Rising tides raise all ships, and building the community through active engagement will be my focus to elevate the priority of improving our public schools. Its not just about money, its about strategic investment with smart money that will enrich the process of education, which goes well beyond the walls of our schools and is strengthened by our community.

How do you plan to improve efficiency within city government?

I will work to implement a performance measure dashboard for the tax dollars City Council approves to be spent by the City. I want to see the status of the paving of streets, fixing our sidewalks, improving our schools, and other outcomes that show our government at work. Number of business licenses applied for, building permits submitted, and number of inspections completed are important to track the ability of government to respond to the market driven investment of our community. I want to have a fully functioning city communication agency that streamlines, standardizes, and makes available to all information about city services and creates equity in access by telephone, online, on mobile applications, and in person. This is the gateway for more data and information about the demands and needs of the city which can further create efficiency measures for government operations. These measures are in action across the country in cities like Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. We need this level of accountability and transparency to drive our efficiency in delivering quality services. I will work with the administration to implement this best practice as a collaborative way to advance our city to better serve the needs of the community.

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