Only a week before election day, one of Richmond's mayoral candidates is dropping out.
Jon Baliles posted the announcement to his Facebook page:
I would like to make public today what is, for me, the most difficult decision of my adult life, and that is to withdraw from the mayor’s race.
Baliles says he is backing out to prevent splitting the vote and "electing someone who so plainly cares only about himself."
He is asking that no one "cast a protest vote" for him "because the stakes are too high and our city’s future is too valuable."
"My withdrawal from the race, however, is not a guarantee of the absence of a fragmented count," said Baliles in the Facebook post. "There will still be at least two major alternatives to Joe Morrissey that would split the opposition vote. The only realistic way our city can ensure that we are moving forward on the morning of November 9 is for other candidates to withdraw and consolidate."
Jack Berry, candidate for Richmond mayor, released the following statement:
Jon is a dedicated city council member to his constituents and a leader for the entire city of Richmond. He's been an ardent advocate for improving Richmond Public Schools and bettering our communities through housing and economic development.
We are at a pivotal point in the election with voters making their final decision about who they are going to vote for. Jon's decision to withdraw from the race I'm sure was very difficult and shows immense character, leadership and strength. He is to be commended for putting the city first.
Jon has a strong sense of service and deep understanding of the city and its government. I hope to work in partnership with Jon down the road to advance ideas and policies that will improve Richmond and get city hall working for every citizen.
Levar Stoney, another candidate for Richmond mayor, released the following statement:
Jon Baliles is a committed and passionate public servant. His forward looking vision and passion for community engagement have made him an excellent member of City Council. He has served the citizens of the First District and our entire city well. Jon elevated the debate in this race and it has been an honor to run with him. I know he will continue to listen to needs of Richmonders and find ways to serve our city.
In an interview Wednesday, fellow candidate Michelle Mosby called on embattled front-runner Joe Morrissey to end his bid for mayor.
"This is a great time for Mr. Morrissey to do what other candidates have done, which is, determine what's good for the city," Mosby said. "So I think he should sit down with himself, and say, 'you know, I know I really want to be mayor. However, maybe this is just not the time for that.'"
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