Richmond City Council votes against Coliseum question on ballot

Richmond City Council votes against Coliseum question on ballot

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond City Council voted against allowing a November ballot question on the mayor’s new arena and downtown re-development proposal.

Five of the nine council members were needed to vote in favor of the resolution for it to move forward.

“I want to have a vote in this project. I think giving us a right to vote is appropriate,” one man in support of the referendum said.

The ultimate decision was as follows:

Yes:

Kim Gray, Kristen Larson, Reva Trammell

No:

Chris Hilbert, Ellen Robertson, Cynthia Newbille, Michael Jones, Andreas Addison

Abstained:

Parker Agelesto

The vote killed the question from reaching the November ballot.

This all comes after Mayor Levar Stoney proposed a $1.5 billion downtown redevelopment project nine days ago that would be funded by private investors, all except the arena.

Stoney says future tax dollars would pay back investors for that.

“As a concerned resident, I am definitely against it,” one man against the referendum said.

Many people spoke out, saying they want to leave the decision solely in the hands of city council.

“Can I ask who has read all 11 ordinances and all 981 pages,” one woman against the referendum said.

Although some want it off the ballot, doesn’t mean they are against the project.

“This opportunity that I have been given, has given me the opportunity to take care of my family and continue to take care of my family to continue to live our lives,” one man contracted to work on the project said.

“It breaks my heart to sit over there and listen to people and say the people of Richmond can’t be trusted to make decisions about what’s best for them” one woman for the referendum said.

The same for those wanting the referendum to pass.

“Pass the power back to us and trust our ability to make educated decisions in the same way we made educated decisions to elect you and put you in the seat you now sit on,” one man said.

“This, right here, stopped the citizens from being able to vote,” Trammell said.

No one was more vocal than District Eight Councilwoman Trammell who co-sponsored the referendum with Councilwoman Gray.

"This is wrong. We are suppose to be for the people by the people, open government. That’s what mayor Levar Stoney campaigned on,” Trammell said.

Trammel says going into the vote, she thought she had the support of her fellow council members. Trammell believes the council silenced the voices of Richmond residents.

“I hope the citizens hold their feet to the fire. Every damn one of them that voted against it,” Trammel said.

Had the question made the ballot, it would have only be an advisory question. The city council would have still had the ultimate vote on whether the projected moved forward.

Additionally, another effort to get a referendum question on the ballot stalled.

Opponent of the mayor and project, attorney Paul Goldman, collected more than 14,000 signatures for a petition. He only needed to have 10,300 signatures verified, but the general registrar said Goldman’s petition was short on signatures, by about 400 and would not be allowed to move forward. Goldman said he will contest the decision.

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