RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Mayoral candidate Alexsis Rodgers suspended her campaign on Thursday, which follows Mayor Levar Stoney declaring victory in Richmond’s crowded mayoral race.
“Thanks to your hard work and dedication, I’m humbled to be Richmond’s Mayor for the next four years. We wouldn’t be here without your tireless dedication and support. So thank you,” Stoney said in a statement.
Stoney released the following statement in part:
"I know the road hasn’t been easy, but if we work together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. Our work to make Richmond the best place it can be, a city that works for everyone — no matter your zip code or skin color — has only just gotten started.
For much of Wednesday, the race appeared stalled on the city’s registrar website. As of 4:30 p.m., only 36,000 votes had been posted in the mayoral race. We still have to face this health crisis, but we’re facing it together. And I’m determined to make sure our small businesses and working families are supported, so our city is stronger when we make it to the other side."
For much of Wednesday, the race appeared stalled on the city’s registrar website. As of 4:30 p.m., only 36,000 voted had been posted in the mayoral race.
Those numbers were vastly different from the State Department of Elections website which showed more than 101,000 votes for much of the day.
However, in the city of Richmond, the race for mayor is not decided by the popular vote. A winning candidate must secure five of nine council districts.
Shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, Richmond Electoral Board Chairman Jim Nachman told NBC12 Stoney had a substantial lead in six of nine districts.
“The statistics that I have now, and they are unofficial, these are from the absentee ballots, it appears that Mayor Stoney has a strong lead in six of the nine councilmatic districts,” he said.
That document shows more than 70,000 votes from absentee ballots mailed in and early in-person voting.
“I love this job, I love the city of Richmond and I am always humbled by the power of the voter,” Stoney said.
After nearly eight hours of stalled data on the city’s registrar website, nearly 105,000 votes were posted just before 5 p.m.
Breaking it down by district, Stoney appears to lead in districts three, four, six, seven, eight and nine.
“The question was standing here now, do I believe I won outright, yes,” Stoney said during a COVID-19 briefing. “Every indication that we’ve seen is that we’ve won six districts. Last time we won five districts, this time we won six districts.”
The data also showed Alexsis Rodgers leading in two districts, followed by councilwoman Kim Gray in one. Wednesday, Gray’s campaign manager said the councilwoman would comment after all the counts are in and districts are called going on to say “it’s important every vote is counted.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers suspended her campaign on Thursday evening, saying in part:
"We ran an incredibly strong campaign rooted in progressive values under unprecedented circumstances. We inspired first-time voters and engaged community members who are often excluded. We forced my opponents to adopt more progressive positions. We also rejected contributions from corporations, while setting the all-time record for individual contributors in a Richmond mayor’s race.
“This campaign was never about me. It was always about providing the leadership our city deserves. Richmond voters sent a clear message in this election that they want change in our city government. I commit to continue my work with community members to hold Mayor Stoney accountable to calls for real police reform, affordable housing, equitable public transportation and environmental justice.”
While those votes have not been certified at this point, congratulations are already rolling in for the 39-year-old incumbent.
Nachman said there are still many provisional ballots that need to be counted, and does not expect to certify the votes until next week.
In the meantime, Stoney, who still appears to hold the lead, remains optimistic about another four years.
“To get another four years to complete the work, as I’ve stated in the past, it’s the greatest honor in my life,” he said.
While the mayoral race has not been officially called, voters near Monument Avenue say that whoever leads Richmond over the next four years will have their work cut out for them, citing bing issues like education, the COVID-19 pandemic and citywide civil unrest.
“The city schools need so much more than what they’re getting, and all the kids deserve better. Our whole society is best served by schools that work,” said Montgomery Maguire.
“For us to get our community together, back to what it was before COVID-19, it’s going to take everyone chipping in,” said Marlow Maguire.
“The Confederate statues, for instance, I mean it’s the community’s word right now and for future generations that these statues come down,” said Robert Durant III “We need police reform too. All of these things need to be addressed right now.”
ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE
Stoney watched the numbers roll in privately with close family and friends, however, there were issues in those votes being reported.
For roughly two hours the number of votes was slowly updated on the city’s registrar website leaving many people questioning what was wrong. Nearly four hours after polls closed, districts 4 and 8 in the city did not have any votes reported.
Just after 10 p.m., the numbers started updating on the website.
Stoney was out and about Tuesday campaigning outside polling sites. While Stoney has already served four years in the mayoral role, he does have plans for the future if re-elected, which he said focuses on bridging the divide in the city.
“Universal pre-K leading into our investment in our kids and public education," Stoney said. "I also want to focus on how we create generational worth and economic empowerment for our Black Richmonders; how we transform public housing and also creating more Black homeowners here in the city of Richmond,” Stoney said.
Shortly after 11 p.m., Stoney’s campaign manager released the following statement:
“While we are still watching the results closely, it is clear that the Mayor is the only candidate in the race with a coalition to win five out of nine districts. I am confident that the Mayor will be re-elected to serve a second term.”
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Kim Gray has been a close second in the race for much of Tuesday evening, with more than 28% of the vote.
Gray has served the city in some capacity for close to a dozen years, working on the school board and city council.
Gray, 49, said she will make affordable housing a top priority along with a plan to modernize all Richmond Public School buildings over the next decade.
To win the mayoral race, you need to win five of the city’s nine districts. If that does not happen, a runoff election will be held between the top two candidates. According to the city’s charter, the runoff election must be held on the sixth Tuesday after the general election. Which would be Dec. 15, but this is only if necessary.
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.