© 2019 Thad Williamson. Authorized and Paid For By Thad Williamson For Richmond City Council.

  • Thad Williamson

Doing the Work of City Council, 4/4: Being Present and Accessible, in the Community

We now come to the final, critical component of doing the work of City Council:

Being present and accessible in the community. As noted in the very first post in this series, the City Council representative is the connecting point between residents and their city government. And a big part of Council leadership, or leadership at any level, is listening and learning.

This is especially true in the 5th District, with its distinct neighborhoods and racial and economic diversity. It’s not good enough to be just a few places; citizens rightly expect their representative to be “everywhere,” or at least as many places as possible.

I know this community. I am an RPS parent whose child attended John B. Cary Elementary School; my spouse served on the PTA Board, and I have sponsored class trips and been honored to serve as John B. Cary’s commencement speaker this past June.

I was a volunteer basketball coach at Randolph Community Center for five seasons (I’ve also coached John B. Cary’s team and at Humphrey Calder), and have mentored neighborhood youth. I was invited last December to speak on behalf of the neighborhood at the 95th anniversary of Sixth Baptist Church.

Just in the past week I helped open a new community library at Randolph Community Center sponsored by the Fountain for Youth Foundation, and was invited by the TH-JAW Foundation to address the city’s five high school football teams in advance of the upcoming season.

I walk around Byrd Park all the time and live the bulk of my daily life outside of work in our amazing Fifth District. I like going to school events, recreational sports events, arts and cultural events, and more.

As Fifth District representative, I pledge to be present and accessible. I will attend as many neighborhood association meetings as possible and be sure we have staff present at meetings I cannot get to personally. I will visit each school in the district each semester, and I will regularly be present at recreational activities taking place in the district. You’ll see my family at the Randolph pool and you’ll see me shooting baskets.

As previously stated, I will continue to hold district meetings and also hold additional “Citizen Academies” focused on fostering direct dialogue between city agencies and Fifth District residents.

And sometimes, I will just walk around the neighborhoods to say hello, see what’s going on, and find out what’s on people’s minds. I enjoy talking to people, but even more I enjoy listening to people share their stories, their insights, their recommendations.

Listening is the biggest part of leadership. Residents who want to reach out to me and talk will know where to find me—and also will know that soon enough, I will be coming through for a meeting, an occasion, or just to check in.

Of course, I intend to see as many residents and voters in the 5th District as possible between now and Election Day. If you live in the 5th District and I come knocking, please do answer—I would be thrilled to talk to you. But know also I’ll be back through, time and again, for as long as I may have the privilege of representing the 5th District on City Council.