Levar Stoney began his political career in Virginia’s Democratic party, was tapped by governor McAuliffe to be the secretary of the commonwealth and is now hoping to serve the residents of Richmond.
His new TV ad features an intense workout. The 35-year-old promises change to Richmond’s city hall with fresh energy and new ideas.
“I’m running against the same faces, the same characters, the same ideas, but with no new solutions,” Stoney told 8News. “If you want to get better you have to get better with new. You don’t get better with more of the same.”
But how new would a Stoney administration be? Though he’s never run for elected office, he’s raised far more money and landed bigger establishment endorsements than any of his rivals. More than $600,000 according to watchdogs. Supporters include Governor McAuliffe, Richmond’s teachers’ union, local homebuilders and former First lady Anne Holton.
“Sixteen years ago I was on free and reduced lunch,” Stoney said. “I laugh at those who say I’m part of the establishment because, yeah, I may have risen through the Democratic Party, but my story is very similar to children in the city.
“I think what people were looking for in this city is someone who’s going to be a leader for everyone. Someone who people will actually trust to listen to them, and someone who’s willing to push the envelope when they see something wrong.”
Stoney says Richmond needs a mayor who boldly promotes regional cooperation and excellence in delivering services to citizens at home.
“The mayor has to be the person who draws a shared agenda, an agenda to be shared with city council and the school board, who drives the narrative of why people should live in the city long-term, but also someone who drives the culture, a culture of accountability and transparency inside city hall and outside city hall,” Stoney said.
That would include a complete review of city services in Stoney’s first 100 days in office and putting underperforming city employees on notice.
“Mediocrity has been the gold standard at City Hall for far too long,” he said. “It’s time for someone to set a standard of excellence.”
It sounds like a lot of work.
“I hope that I’m a demonstration and an inspiration for others who have sat on the sidelines for far too long and see the possibility of the city of Richmond becoming greater than it is.”