At Grid, we believe that everyone in Richmond has a superpower – a unique combination of personality traits and aptitudes that they bring effortless to everything they do. What’s your superpower and how will you share it with RVA?
My superpower, if it qualifies as a superpower, is my relentless tenacity and work ethic. I’ll use that power in the service of RVA as a full-time mayor who will not let a problem affecting our citizens wallow and fester from inaction.
Journalist and Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce once told John F. Kennedy that “a great man is a sentence.” Can you sum up your purpose in a single line? Let’s hear your sentence.
My purpose in life is to speak for those without a voice.
Let’s chat conflict, how do you handle it and how do you make sure you’re listening effectively to others when conflict arises?
Some may be surprised by my answer, but my conflict resolution style, in general, is to seek common ground. When I, or anyone I’m representing, is treated unfairly however, I respond in kind. Situations involving conflict are often overheated for all involved—people stop hearing each other. That’s why when I respond in kind I always start by repeating back to the person what they said—so they know I’ve listened.
What defines good citizenship and how do you model it?
Good citizenship is comprised of meeting your obligations under the “social contract” and remembering what Muhammad Ali said “The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
Tell us a story about a solution to a problem in Richmond that you made better, faster, smarter, and less expensive.
Many minorities and female heads of households have a very difficult time purchasing their first home. They lack the knowledge of the financial system to present themselves to potential lenders in the best possible light. Working with Neighborhood Housing Services of Richmond, I worked one-on-one with 82 low income families on each step of their first home purchase.
We’re proud of our makers and doers in Richmond. People who roll up their sleeves and get stuff done. Tell us about the last thing you made with your hands or created.
The last thing I made with my hands was a special sign for my Bride, Myrna, on our wedding day. It was the first thing she saw the morning of our wedding. The sign read “Forever begins today.”
Please share an example of a solutions-oriented Richmonder—or Richmond organization—engaged in innovative practices that have influenced you?
I’ve been very impressed with the Family Restoration Network. This very committed group helps ex-offenders re-integrate back into their families when their prison time is finished. They assign each client a mentor and emphasize growth in their client’s fatherhood skills.
If you could change one event in Richmond over the past ten years, what would it be?
I would change the city’s arrangement with the Washington Redskins.
Who is your favorite Richmond mayor of all time, and why?
My favorite Richmond mayor is Henry Marsh. Henry overcame tremendous racial and personal challenges, served his country in the U.S. Army, and graduated from law school. Henry and his law partner, Samuel Tucker, fought countless civil rights cases, including more than 50 historic school desegregation cases. He brought that courage and zeal for social justice to Richmond City government when he was elected to city council in 1970. In 1982, his peers on city council elected Henry Marsh the first African-American mayor of Richmond.
If you could paint a mural depicting the future of Richmond, what would you paint and where would you paint it?
My mural depicting the future of Richmond would have multicultural and international children holding hands as they walked on a pathway to a modern, high tech school that led to a graduation ceremony where their parents and friends applauded them, and on to a college or technical training school. The pathway would show them continuing on to families and homes of their own, where they would wave to their children on their way to school.
Sidebar (space permitting)
Hometown: Annandale, Va.
Neighborhood: Ginter Park
Favorite Way to Volunteer: Neighborhood Housing Services of Richmond
Listening Style: Active listening
Preferred Mode of Transportation: Skis – water & snow
Best Locally Made Product: Hopewell Peanuts
Favorite Spot on the River: Osborne Boat Landing, where I water ski
Favorite Go-to Restaurant: The Tobacco Company Restaurant
Book you’ve gifted most to others: “Friday Night Lights”
Three achievable goals that you plan
Replacing blighted housing with affordable homes that fit well in their neighborhoods.
Keeping Armstrong High School open.
Supporting ex-offenders successfully reintegrating into their families and communities.