In a virtual town hall, candidate Kim Gray said her experience as a council member and commitment to connected, honest government make her the best choice to be Richmond’s next mayor. The Youtube livestream had been watched by around 175 people by Sunday evening.
“I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life as a public servant, as an elected official, and the past four years have been very challenging. I want to overcome the corruption and cronyism and lack of common sense approaches,” Gray said.
“I started my journey in elected life as a school board member because children are, I think, the foundation for a prosperous locality and making sure that we have a sound education system in place for our students and that children are safe and protected in our community.” Gray added that she wants to address a problem with virtual learning — some students don’t have the computers or internet access they need to attend classes.
Gray said that part of solving Richmond’s education problems means addressing challenges for small businesses. “I also think commerce is important if we want to pay for all the amenities, and to pay for great schools and modernize school buildings. We have to support our local businesses and make sure they are thriving and generating the revenue needed to move us forward.” She pointed to her record on the city council, where they used grants to help businesses meet COVID-19-related costs.
Gray said her top priorities were focused on restoring relationships between citizens and government.
“We are coming out of a serious crisis with COVID-19, we have a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds. And I think that with the civil unrest, I do think there’s a connection there; people are sensing a level of frustration and want to be heard by their government,” Gray said. “Building community policing, community trust, community planning back into every aspect of what we do in city hall is an utter priority.”
Gray said she wants to encourage more dialogue, including peaceful protesting. “I think we have to engage and we have to have dialogue,” Gray said. “It’s what we have to do and sometimes it’s difficult conversations that we need to have. But if we don’t allow that space and opportunity for people to be heard and have a dialogue, we can’t move forward.”
“I also think we need to address when people are crossing the lines and not treating our businesses respectfully.” Gray added, “I do draw the line there.”
Gray said she’s worked to reestablish that community dialogue in her city council district, and that as a 27-year resident of Jackson Ward, she’s invested in Richmond for the long haul. “I’ve been a public servant for over 25 years, going on 30 years. And I understand who I work for, who my bosses are — the people of the city of Richmond.”
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