Editor's Note: A quote from Williamson was changed to correct an error.
University of Richmond leadership studies and philosophy, politics, economics and law professor, Thad Williamson, lost the Nov. 5 election for city council in Richmond’s 5th District.
Williamson lost the election to political newcomer Stephanie Lynch. Eight candidates sought the 5th District seat, because there was no incumbent council member, he said.
“It's very difficult to challenge somebody who's in a position for an open seat,” Williamson said. “I thought I had as good or better claim to it as anyone.”
The 5th District is one of Richmond’s most diverse with 49% of the voter base being black and 43% white, the smallest demographic ratio of any district. Given that there were eight candidates, one of the major hurdles that Williamson needed to tackle was distinguishing himself within that crowded field, he said.
Previously, Williamson, a former adviser to Mayor Levar Stoney, had come under scrutiny by members of Lt. Gov Fairfax’s team. Fairfax had been accused of sexual assault, and Williamson reportedly encouraged one of his accusers to go to the press.
Williamson does not believe this hurt his campaign and said that potential voters asked him about it at events.
"I was not asked that at the forums, people at the doors were not talking about that,” Williamson said. “So no I would say that it had a minimal impact.”
If elected, Williamson said he would have worked to improve schools, reduce poverty and make practical improvements.
Overall, Williamson said he enjoyed the experience of running for political office.
“I love the work involved and trying to improve our city, improve our schools, reduce poverty, make city government work better,” Williamson said.
Discussing these topics with various people was another aspect Williamson enjoyed.
“I get conversations about those topics every day, with a wide variety of people so that was fun," Williamson said. "And also, you know, we built a really great team of volunteers that were very committed to helping me.”
Williamson said he is not planning on running again unless another open-seat opportunity arrives.
Contact news writer Ben Wasserstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.