Fifty Fixes for the Fifth, #45-50: Effective Government, Effective Representation, Election Day
This post closes out what we are now calling our first Fifty Fixes for the Fifth District, encompassing small and large issues. It is not a comprehensive list; for instance, I deliberately did not include one of our most urgent issues, confronting gun violence, on this list because I did not want to trivialize it. I addressed that issue early in the campaign and remain committed to a bold, holistic approach to addressing the root causes of crime in our community.
There are also countless worthy neighborhood-specific issues not included in this list that I know are important to the 5th District. If elected, we will keep building this list and tracking progress.
This final post will be short and sweet, calling attention to earlier important policy statements regarding performance improvement, the job of City Council, and lastly the upcoming election.
#45. Promote a More Effective and Efficient Local Government
The City of Richmond must improve dramatically as an organization, and the culture of City Hall needs an overhaul. For me, that begins with greater public accountability for all agencies, devoted attention to the internal services (like Human Resources) that drive organizational culture and efficiency, and greatly ramping up the City’s new Performance Management unit. I detailed these ideas in a June blog post which is worth reading in full for those interested in this important issue.
#46. Responsive Representation from City Council
I divide the role of City Council into four clear focal points: responsiveness to residents, policy-making and the budget process, holding the city administration accountable, and being present in the community. Responsiveness to residents means answering questions and communications, continuing newsletters and other forms of communication, proactively sharing with the community what’s going on at City Hall, continually getting feedback on neighborhood issues, and explaining votes on contested questions that come before Council. If elected I will ask Council Liaison Amy Robins (a.ka. the most popular person in the 5th District!) to stay on to assure continued excellence in responding to residents’ needs.
Click here for more details on how I view responsiveness.
#47. Policy making and the Budget Process: Experienced and Knowledgeable Representation
City Council holds the purse strings of a nearly $800 million city budget. It is a weighty responsibility; to be effective in driving policy change you have to thoroughly understand both the budget document and the budget process. I do because I have been part of it in some fashion most of the past decade, from being a citizen advocating for schools funding to helping craft parts of the budget document as an administrator. I have multiple successes in getting crucial initiatives benefiting people in need in to the City budget. For more detail on how I will approach the budget process as a City Council member, see here.
#48. Holding the Administration Accountable for Action and Inaction
It doesn’t matter how great the budget is if the dollars don’t result in programs being implemented and services being delivered in an effective, timely way. City Council also has the ability to promote accountability for all city agencies through Council Committees, the auditing process, the budget process, and asking questions. All this is critically important; I want to go farther and insist that all agencies publish their annual plans and goals ever year at the start of the fiscal year.
As a former City administrator, I know how challenging it can be to get things done, but I also don’t have much patience for excuses. I will ask the tough questions of anyone, and I will use my knowledge to probe beneath the surface. Read here for more details!
#49. Being Present in the Community
To represent the community effectively, you have to be present in the community. That’s just the truth. 5th District residents in every neighborhood want to be able to see, approach, talk to their Councilperson, and if elected I will be in every neighborhood on a regular basis. The winner of this special election will have a live, very public audition for the long-term job over the next year leading into the November 2020 election, but that’s not the real reason you will see me almost everywhere if elected. You’ll see me because I enjoy talking to people, enjoy meeting new people, enjoy civic conversations, love talking about the City of Richmond’s business, love learning new things, and love helping to address issues and concerns.
For more thoughts on this important dimension of serving on City Council, click here!
#50. Elect Thad Williamson to Richmond City Council!
Okay, fix #50 is admittedly partisan. There are many good candidates in this race, and I am proud of the spirit in which this campaign has been waged by all parties.
I absolutely believe I have the strongest qualifications, experience and capacity to do all parts of the job and help our district and city thrive. I am a tenured professor and a nationally recognized policy expert. I also have experience building a successful agency within Richmond City Hall as well as leading many related partnerships to bring about real change.
This work has already benefited thousands of Richmonders in hands-on practical ways. I’ve helped get resources into schools and I’ve worked on improving policy and process in City Hall. As this series of blog posts and policy statements shows, I have a thorough command of local policy issues.
This is a truly unique profile (not just locally, but nationally). I am ready not only to serve but to begin making positive impact on behalf of the progressive changes 5th District residents have made abundantly clear they wish to see in our city, starting December 1 and going into the upcoming budget cycle.
I want to assure this upcoming year that workforce development programs expand into the 5th District, that funding for a new George Wythe High School is identified and committed, and that we fully fund our schools’ needs—not down the road, but this year. I want to press the administration to follow through on its promises of delivering a more transparent, better managed city government. I have the policy knowledge to identify good ideas and solutions to tough problems, but I also have the relationship-building skill needed to build consensus for action.
I did not enter this race to start a political career; the focus of my energy is solely on improving the 5th District and the City of Richmond. I have a vision, forged in community with others, of a community with much less poverty, much stronger schools, and a much more effective government. I have had the privilege to build towards that vision and accomplish some important things for the community in previous roles.
I’m running now because there is so much more to be done to create a more equitable Richmond, building on previous positive steps. I know already that this work is hard, exhausting, often frustrating, sometimes disappointing. It takes relentless hard work to get important things done, and even then success is often fragile.
But this is critically important work, and it must be done. If elected you will see how hard I work, how carefully I consider problems, and how committed I am to taking the actions that push progress forward. Those who have worked with me will tell you that while my style is not the most polished, it is the most persistent, and it is very effective.
I do what it takes to get the job done, no matter the obstacles or pressures.
I will do a great job for the residents of the 5th District. I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to serve in this role. It’s my passion for doing the work of the City of Richmond and using my knowledge and experience to further help our community that has driven me forward in this campaign.
That’s why I am asking for your vote on November 5.
Help us elect experienced, diligent, and conscientious leadership to Richmond City Council, and help us build a Thriving Fifth District.