Richmond mayoral candidate Levar Stoney visited the Tyler Haynes Commons at University of Richmond this morning to shake hands with students and ask for their votes in Tuesday's election.
Stoney visited the university commons and sat just a few yards away from students tabling for Donald Trump while he drew parallels between the national election and Richmond's local one.
"I would have never thought I’d be running at a time where you hear so much divisive language from the top to the bottom," Stoney said.
Stoney compared Richmond's front-runner, Joe Morrissey, to the Republican nominee for president.
"In my race, I’m encountering a Trump-like figure in Joe Morrissey," Stoney said. "It can be distracting from the issues that really matter to the actual electorate. I would like to get back to a place where we’re more focused on our problems and those solutions rather than being focused on someone’s personal and professional misconduct."
Richmond's mayoral campaign has been riddled with scandal because of Morrissey’s candidacy and his previous conduct. In 2014, Morrissey, now 59 years old, pleaded guilty and was charged after prosecutors accused him of having sex with a 17-year-old who was working in his office. Morrissey is now married to the girl, Myrna, 20, and the couple have two children together. Last week, a former female legal client of Morrissey’s said he made unwanted sexual advances toward her. Morrissey admitted to sending “flirtatious” texts to the client.
Morrissey’s father-in-law started an online campaign against Morrissey's election called “Say No To Joe,” where he says Morrissey “preyed upon my teenaged daughter and continues to take advantage of her young and naïve mind.”
For Stoney, Morrissey's candidacy is a distraction from the problems facing Richmond residents.
“It distracts from those people who are living on the margins, who need the help of city hall,” Stoney said. “If we’re stuck in someone’s reality show, how can we focus on the least of these who need our help more than others?”
Stoney, 35, has raised more money than any other previous candidate for Richmond mayor, more than $700,000 total, and is the only candidate endorsed by the Richmond city democrats, but he trails in third just one day before the election.
Stoney said it's a "very tight race tomorrow between three front-runners," Morrissey, Jack Berry and himself.
After graduating from James Madison University in 2004, Stoney worked for Virginia politicians Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Terry McAullife, where he was the youngest member of the governor’s cabinet.
“I’ve been able to see first hand what active positive leadership can actually do for citizens,” Stoney said. “It’s time for a mayor of Richmond to actually put progressive values into action and to stand up for what’s right and what’s good.”
Before Stoney began shaking hands with Richmond students this morning, he told The Collegian why students voting in Richmond should choose him tomorrow.
“If they want a mayor that’s going to put the children of the city first, a mayor that’s going to put listening to the citizens of the city first, and a mayor that can actually bring the city together, then I’m their guy,” Stoney said.
To become Richmond's next mayor, a candidate must win five of the nine total districts. If a candidate doesn't win five, a runoff election will be held between the top two candidates on Dec. 20.
For Stoney, Tuesday's election offers a door to the progressive future he envisions for the city, and Richmond residents hold the key to unlock it.
“I’m ready to take Richmond to the next level and I think Richmond is ready for some new blood,” Stoney said.
Contact news writer Claire Comey at firstname.lastname@example.org