Richmond’s 4th District candidates all looking to improve schools, infrastructure

4th-district

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Five people are vying for Richmond’s 4rd District City Council seat, which encompasses Richmond’s southwest.

8News was able to speak with all five of Richmond City Council 4rd District candidates Tim Grimes, Kristen Nye Larson, Larry A. Olanrewaju, Jeff Thomas and Johnny S. Walker.

Tim Grimes:

tim-grimes-2

1. Can you give me a quick background on who you are and how you got to where you are now?

My wife Beverly and I have been in Richmond for 15 years. After a career in printing sales in Chicago, I changed careers to political campaigns in 2000. I came to Richmond in 2001 to work on the Attorney General campaign for then Delegate Donald McEachin. I continued on as political/legislative aide/legal assistant. In 2007 I started working for the Greater Richmond Chamber in Member Relations. In late 2012, I accepted an offer to be Liaison to Councilwoman Kathy Graziano. About a year ago, when Ms. Graziano decided to retire after this term is up, I decided to run Richmond City Council in the 4th.       

2. Why are you running for City Council?

I’m running for City Council because my experience as Liaison for four years has given me the unique opportunity of knowing what 4th District constituent’s concerns are, how to resolve many of their issues with City Departments and knowing where the City needs to improve. Ms. Graziano and I share the same office space, attend the same meetings and worked together on budgets and hundreds of large and small issues. I have developed relationships with residents of the fourth district as well as city departments. I know who to call to get the job done.

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge to overcome in your district?

The biggest challenge to overcome in the 4th District is delivery of basic services in a timely manner.

4. What is something new you can bring to your district?

Something new I can bring to the 4th District is an organized schedule for bulk/brush pick–up.

5. Why do you think voters should elect you to represent the 4th District?

I am the only candidate with hands-on experience.

6. Additional links and information for Tim Grimes:

Another challenge is the lack of funding for schools and infrastructure. I will work with the new mayor, city council, Richmond Public School’s superintendent, school board, business and the community to come up with an actual long term plan to fund schools and infrastructure.

Website: Timgrimesrva.org

Facebook: Tim Grimes for City Council

 

 

Kristen Nye Larson:

Kristen Larson
Kristen Larson

 

1. Can you give me a quick background on who you are and how you got to where you are now?

I’m the current school board member for the 4th District and running for city council.  In 2010, I helped open Patrick Henry School for Arts and Science, Virginia’s first public charter elementary school. I’ve served on the school board since 2013, led the effort to audit the entire system, hired a new superintendent, and co-chaired the facilities task force. I’m the mother of two children who attend Richmond Public Schools.

2. Why are you running for City Council?

Education is a top priority of Richmonders. We need council members who understand public school and have hands-on experience in the classrooms. We also need a city council member who will be a check and balance for the mayor and who will ensure our financial reports are submitted on time.  I am the candidate who can bring together council, the school board and the mayor to address the fiscal and educational challenges in our city.

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge to overcome in your district?

One of the biggest challenges in the 4th District is families leaving the city because they are not confident in Richmond Public Schools.  We have made some small community changes – a group of families from Westover Hills neighborhood now attend Westover Hills Elementary Schools. More change needs to happen and if we are going to have a strong city, we need to have a strong public school system where families are personally investing by sending their children to city schools.

4. What is something new you can bring to your district?

I will bring a fresh, new perspective to our district. Fourth district residents want a responsive, transparent city council member and I have proved to have those qualities during my tenure on school board. Constituents also want someone tuned in with the needs of young families and someone who is responsive to the needs of the school system. I am the right candidate to fill that need.

5. Why do you think voters should elect you to represent the 4th District?

I have the experience. I will dedicate full-time hours to the position and I know the priorities of our district and city. I am the right person to move our district and city forward.

6. Additional links and information for Kristen Nye Larson:

I have been humbled by the support I’ve received across the 4th District.  I’m endorsed by the Richmond Association of REALTORS®, Richmond Education Association, and the Richmond City Democratic Committee.  Voters can find out more about me at www.ElectKristenLarson.com.

 

Larry A. Olanrewaju:

larry-2

1. Can you give me a quick background on who you are and how you got to where you are now?

Education: B.B.A. (Management) College of William and Mary

M.A. (Economics) Virginia State University

M.B.A. (Business Administration) Howard University

A. (Community College Education-Business) George Mason University

Occupation: Educator-Professor of Economics, John Tyler Community College

Civic/Community Activities: Member of the Richmond Public Library Board of Trustees.

Former member and Chairman of Richmond City School

2. Why are you running for City Council?

My primary reasons for running for city council is to help shape a vision for our city. A vision of:

A city that continues to attract and retain business and grows our economic base, by creating jobs, increasing the level of income and reducing poverty.

A city where people want live or relocate to live and raise a family.

A city with an improving School System, where parents want to enroll their children from Elementary through High School.

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge to overcome in your district?

An important challenge is the lack of timely provision of basic citizen services that citizens expect and have paid for through their tax dollars.

One other issue is the lack of confidence by some 4th district residents in their school system — especially those with school-age children in sending their children to city schools.

4. What is something new you can bring to your district?

I will make basic services a priority in the city budget. I will work with the administration to have a separate line item that will show the allocation of money for providing these services. That the departments are fully staffed, and have the resources needed (snow ploughs, trucks, lawn mowers, etc.) needed to do the work.

 5. Why do you think voters should elect you to represent the 4th District?

I think they should elect me because of my record of service and achievements from working for the citizens of the 4th District.  My past service on the school board demonstrated dedication to task, and not abandoning the work of the people for political expedience. I stayed on school board until the division achieved full accreditation, and hired a superintended whose contract was tied to student achievement to affirm the value the citizens placed on education.

6. Additional links and information for Larry A. Olanrewaju:

Website: Larryolanrewajuforcitycouncil.com

Email: Larryolanrewajuforcouncil@gmail.com

 

Jeff Thomas:

jeff-thomas-21. Can you give me a quick background on who you are and how you got to where you are now?

I was born and raised in Richmond and attended local home, parochial and private schools. I attended college at the Duke University School of Engineering and graduate school at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs.

After college, I worked as a public school teacher through Harvard’s World Teach program. After graduate school, I worked as an analyst for national, nonpartisan nonprofits. I am currently a writer whose first book, Virginia Politics and Government in a New Century, is being published this week. All of my book royalties are being donated to Richmond’s public schools.

2. Why are you running for City Council?

The Support Our Schools movement inspired me to join the race. The other candidates – except Johnny Walker – are partly to blame for the state of our schools. City government needs a complete change in direction, and I will be the strongest advocate for schools on council. Unfortunately, the other candidates’ track records show that they would not support schools.

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge to overcome in your district?

The status quo of government waste and incompetence is the biggest obstacle to progress.

We need to invest in infrastructure so schools are not crumbling. The best solution is to end political waste like the Redskins ripoff and the mayor’s security detail and invest the money in our schools. After this, I support a modest increase in the debt limit paid for by a dedicated cigarette tax.

The top district-specific issue is stopping the destruction of Reedy Creek. Reedy Creek is a treasure, yet it is slated for a Kafkaesque restoration project. Local experts and the community are strongly opposed to this project, and I will do everything in my power to stop it.

4. What is something new you can bring to your district?

I have refused all campaign donations, and, if elected, I will not accept a salary or serve more than one term. My opponents are all longtime politicians who refused these pledges, accepted thousands of dollars from special interests, and want to get promoted by inertia.

Taking money from corporations, unions or people who live outside of Richmond should be illegal, and my first bill will prohibit this thinly-veiled political corruption.  I am the first and only candidate in the history of Richmond politics who has made these pledges.

What I bring new to the 4th district and the overall Council is a strong financial/management skill set( MBA and over 35 years of corporate experience lobbying and negotiating multi-million dollar contracts) as well as community/civic involvement on several grass roots Boards.

5. Why do you think voters should elect you to represent the 4th District?

I am the only candidate who has a strong track record of public service and who has put values first in his campaign. I am donating all royalties from my book to our desperately-underfunded public schools; I am the only candidate who has worked as an elementary teacher; I also serve on the Board of the Fondren Foundation.

I am the only candidate who has the right mix of experience and energy to change things. Voters in the 4th should elect me to represent them because I am the most qualified candidate. I have lived in the district for 26 years and know the issues and concern.

6. Additional links and information for Jeff Thomas: 

Website: http://jeffthomasrva.com

Book: https://www.amazon.com/Virginia-Politics-Government-New-Century/dp/1467137405/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8

 

Johnny S. Walker:

johnny-walker

1. Can you give me a quick background on who you are and how you got to where you are now?

Johnny retired as a Director from AT&T and while at AT&T gained more than 35 years of corporate experience with lobbying and negotiating multi-million dollar contracts. He is a proud graduate of Richmond Public Schools and earned a B.S. in Business Administration Management and an MBA, Finance/Management from The University of Richmond (Go Spiders!). Johnny has lived in the Westover Hills neighborhood for 26 years. He is married to retired Richmond police captain Albertina Rasin Walker, they have five children: a Yale lawyer, a doctor, a software engineer, a bus driver and a son who is autistic; all are graduates of Richmond Public Schools.

Walker serves on the following Boards:

  • Dream Academy – assists adults with earning a High School Diploma.
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Richmond – assists veterans and other minorities with obtaining affordable housing.
  • Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Community (RISC) – empowers congregations and individuals to identify and develop solutions to serious community problems.
  • Citizens Against Crime Inc. – founded by my late sister-in-law, Alicia Rasin, assists families of homicide victims.
  • Richmond Kiwanis Club – assists youth by mentoring and tutoring students in RPS.
  • Served with Support Group for Autistic Children – a support group for parents of autistic children. Johnny has a son who is autistic.

 

2. Why are you running for City Council?

“I am running for Richmond City Council, 4th District, because I have the financial/management skill set that has been missing from City Council for too many years.”

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge to overcome in your district?

1. Reducing waste in city government.

2. Funding public schools, but with accountability.

3. Obtaining additional funding for Police and Fire.

4. Delivering basic services such as timely leaf collection, road maintenance and poor drainage.

5. Protecting Reedy Creek and our parks.

4. What is something new you can bring to your district?

What I bring new to the 4th District and the overall Council is a strong financial/management skill set ( MBA and over 35 years of corporate experience lobbying and negotiating multi-million dollar contracts) as well as community/civic involvement on several grass roots Boards.

5. Why do you think voters should elect you to represent the 4th District?

Voters in the 4th should elect me to represent them because I am the most qualified candidate. I have lived in the district for 26 years and know the issues and concern.

6. Additional links and information for Johnny S. Walker: 

Website: johnnywalkerrva.com.

 

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