RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Councilman Michael Jones has served the city’s South Central 9th District since 2017 and is running unopposed in November’s election.
The City Council, made up of nine members who are elected to part-time, four-year terms, creates and amends local laws, sets policies for the city, appoints members to boards and commissions in the city and approves the annual budget.
Jones chairs the Council’s finance and economic development committee and has backed several proposals by Mayor Stoney, including the Confederate monument removal plan and Navy Hill redevelopment plan.
8News asked Jones six questions — each with a 300-word limit — about pressing issues in his district, including his solutions to critical problems in Richmond schools, Mayor Stoney’s plan to remove the city’s Confederate statues, whether the mayor and current city council have done enough to help residents and businesses struggling amid the pandemic and what he would do differently.
Why should your district vote for you?
I have delivered on my promise to bring resources and opportunities to the 9th District.
What do you see as the top priority in your district? How would you address it?
My top two issues are Housing and infrastructure. We have to push home ownership and not just renting for Black and Brown communities. We have programs that are encouraging home ownership for the affluent and “renters” for our communities of color. We need to have programs that will help first time homebuyers in our City. Lastly, we need sidewalks and streets that do not flood on the Southside. My goal is to introduce legislation that would create programs for homeownership on the Southside and communities of Color. I have done the infrastructure studies in District now is the time for me to work with the Administration to put together a funding strategy to accomplish it.
What solutions do you have to offer to help improve Richmond Public Schools? Would you consider supporting a tax hike?
Our schools have been historically underfunded. I am record for saying the even with the historic funding that RPS has received, they will still need more in the upcoming funding years. Taxes are a tricky conversation. We need to look to expand our tax base with smart development and make the commitment to drive the much needed dollars to schools.
How do you think Mayor Stoney handled the process to remove the city’s Confederate statues?
They’re down. Although I was the lone voice calling for their removal three years ago, I am glad that my colleagues on Council and the Mayor came along side and got them removed.
Which proposals from the city council or mayor do you feel have helped residents and businesses struggling during the pandemic? Has enough been done? If not, what would you propose doing to help?
We need greater support for eviction relief. We have helped small businesses and restaurants but the need is so great that we have to be bold and courageous in seeing our City through these difficult times.
What is your assessment on how the council has served city residents in recent years? What concerns you moving forward? What gives you hope for the future?
I know everyone on Council cares for the people they represent and the loves the City we live in. I want to see greater oversight from Council. We spend too much time trying legislate administrative functions when our true power is found in Oversight. Richmond is a great City that has endured the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow Segregation and Economic Catastrophes. We are City that is filled loving and bright people that want to see the right things done. I am excited to see how she will rise out of this pandemic and be the Great City I know she can be.