Richmond Mayorathon’s Focus On The 5th forum was a game-show style event featuring half a dozen candidates competing for the 5th District’s seat on Richmond’s City Council.
Six candidates running to replace 5th District Councilman Parker Agelasto attended a special forum at the Randolph Community Center on Grayland Ave. this past Thursday. Each Candidate got a chance to voice their platform directly to 5th District residents.
The event, called “A Focus on the 5th,” was put together by Richmond Mayorathon, an organization made up of over 17 smaller community organizations. They planned the event to work like a game show — each candidate had only 90 seconds to answer a question, and they all had a handful of “challenge flags” which they could spend to answer questions not directed towards them.
Topics for the questions included Transportation, Public Safety, the Environment, and the notorious Coliseum Redevelopment Plan. Attendees of the forum were also encouraged to write their own questions on a notecard for candidates to answer.
“I think we need to give every opportunity for people to hear what we’re talking about…” said Candidate Nicholas Da Silva. “They put on a very community-centered forum here tonight, so I thought it was valuable to come.”
Of the eight candidates running to replace Agelasto this November, only six attended the event. They were Nicholas Da Silva, Stephanie Lynch, Jer’Mykeal McCoy, Robin Mines, Chuck Richardson and Thad Williamson. Absent were Mamie Taylor and Graham Sturm, the latter of whom announced his withdrawal from the race shortly after this event.
One of the most heated topics of the forum included the North of Broad Development Proposal, also called the Coliseum Plan. The proposal plans to rebuild the Richmond Coliseum, along with a redevelopment of a large portion of downtown. The plan is set to cost $1.5 billion, and was the only topic which had a question directed to every candidate in the room. Only Thad Williams supported the proposal.
“We have 30 thousand adults of working age living in poverty,” said Williams. “”To have several thousand new jobs downtown… would be potentially life-changing.”
However, most of the other candidates strongly opposed the proposal, and criticized its lack of community involvement.
“From the beginning it has been pushed through every level of input or government design,” said Da Silva.
The forum ended after nine rounds of questions. In addition to publicly voicing their views at the forum, each of the candidates also answered many of the questions on the Richmond Mayorathon website.
The special election to decide the next 5th District Councilmember is being held on November 5, after current Councilman Parker Agelasto was forced to resign after moving out of the 5th District.
Photos: Richmond Mayorathon, via Flickr