RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond's youngest mayor ever is about to mark one year on the job.
Mayor Levar Stoney says he'd grade himself a B+ so far. He is proud of his work in aiming to make city hall more efficient, take care of the roads, public school students, and shaking up city administration.
"B+ this year," said Stoney. "I don't believe in your first year you can be A+ perfect. I think we've done a great job in terms of getting city hall operational again, making it a high performing place…I think the citizens would give us a B. They would say that we've done a good job."
It's certainly been a packed year for the mayor known for being very active, with a schedule often filled seven days a week.
Stoney battled a fierce snow storm his first week in office. He visited all 44 public schools. The Public Works Department embarked on blitzes, patching up 20,000 potholes, repairing alleyways, and clearing bulk trash and leaves. The efforts totaled over a million dollars.
The mayor also had to ensure September's Confederate monument protest didn't go awry, after a violent, similar demonstration in Charlottesville.
Stoney further touts his focus on cracking down on inefficiency at city hall. He replaced multiple top ranking officials, like the head of public works. This was also the first year, in many, that the city submitted its annual financial report to the state on time.
"I think [residents] would say,' You know what? He's gotten the financial house in order. He's done some of the things he said he was going to do.' I've kept my promises in ensuring we've created a high performing city," said Stoney.
But Stoney says the city's rising homicide rate keeps him awake at night. This year is now the deadliest in a decade, with 62 homicides; however, Stoney says he still has full confidence in the police chief and entire department.
"I have all the confidence in our police chief. I think Chief Durham and his team have done a good job this year…I still tout [the Richmond Police Department] as being the best police department in all the Commonwealth of Virginia. That's without a doubt," explained Stoney.
Stoney also budgeted for police raises, to help stop the hemorrhage of officers from leaving Richmond for surrounding jurisdictions, for better pay. A new shot detection system is also slated to be installed in the spring.
As far as Richmond's Confederate monuments, Stoney ultimately said he's in favor of seeing them go - if schools were prioritized first. He created a Monument Avenue Commission, which is currently hashing out the future of the statues.
"At this end of the day, they're going to provide a recommendation to this office, and we're going to do something," continued Stoney.
The Richmond School Board just approved a $225 million plan to overhaul the city's aging and crumbling schools. The mayor says he'll find the money, but that plan could change.
"I have a responsibility to find the dollars to fund any plan. So that is what my team is working on right now," he said. "Everything must be on the table. I think in January, you'll hear from us on what that might look like."
Stoney said one of his proudest accomplishments this year was ensuring that 20,000 RPS students received eye exams and glasses, if they needed.
"A mother came to me at Redd Elementary school and said, 'I would have not have known that my child was blind in one eye, if it wasn't for these screenings," recalled Stoney. "That just shows you that the work that we do, can have an impact in people's lives. And that's why I got into this."
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