What started off as a historic 11 candidates grew to 12 as they took the stage at Virginia Union University Wednesday night saying they are running for mayor in Richmond.
They were grilled by former Gov. Doug Wilder, who also once served as Richmond's mayor, on how they can turn the city's schools and struggling neighborhoods around.
A largely unknown Richmond school teacher, Chad Ingold, hit hard against current Mayor Dwight Jones, connecting with the audience and potentially launching his campaign into the spotlight.
"It's not the mayor's job to throw the school board out on the curb," he said.
There were also some big names in the race, like Joe Morrissey. Even when he was offering pointed policy prescriptions to fix the city's schools, allusions to his personal life also made an appearance on stage.
"What a lot of people don't know that I was a former high school coach, and I love to engage with students (laughter)," he said.
"The next mayor has got to be able to work with all of our school board members," Morrissey says. #rvamayor— NBC12 WWBT Richmond (@NBC12) April 6, 2016
#rvamayor Crowd erupts in laughter after Morrissey says he loves to get engaged with students. Long pause. Then Morrissey mentions Myrna— Riccard rickyGavilan (@RICgavilan) April 6, 2016
In terms of how to change the culture of City Hall, Jack Berry guided the conversation on treating the job like the city's CEO. He just stepped down as head of the group Venture Richmond and said making the city more efficient is how to find millions needed to stop school closures.
"The money is there. The question is where do you find it? The first dollar goes to schools, not the last. $700 million budget. If we have great schools, everything else will follow," said Berry.
For now, it's possible for all of these candidates to be on the November ballot, as long as they secure 500 signatures spread across the city they hope to run.
This would truly be historic because the greatest number of candidates we've had in a mayoral race in the past is five.
Here is the list of the potential candidates at Wednesday's forum:
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