Morrissey ‘tempers things’ at Richmond debate

RICHMOND, Va. -- Joe Morrissey, the current front runner for Mayor of Richmond explained to a full audience inside the Library of Richmond at a debate hosted by the Richmond Times Dispatch, why voters should pick him despite his rocky past.

“I think perhaps I've tempered things a little bit being a father and a husband,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey won some applause, but at least one voter left unconvinced.

“I would have a hard time voting for a man to fix schools if I couldn't trust him around a school,” Antonio Miller said.

But only one of Morrissey's opponents actually challenged him directly: Architect Lawrence Williams.

“What would you say to many of the voters who feel you have exploited the Afro-American community?” Williams asked Morrissey.

Richmond Mayoral Candidates

Richmond Mayoral Candidates

Morrissey touted his pro bono work for African Americans, and then went after Levar Stoney.

“You never developed a budget, supplemented a budget, amended a budget,” Morrissey said to Stoney.

Stoney responded by taking a jab at Morrissey.

“What I think the next mayor of Richmond should be is someone we should all be proud of,” Stoney said.

RELATED: Richmond Democratic Committee endorses mayoral candidate Levar Stoney

Other candidates tried to explain their own platforms.

Jack Berry announced he no longer supports building a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom, while city council president Michelle Mosby called herself a relationship builder.

“I have a gift,” Mosby said.

Her strategy resonated with voter Janyce Olson, who agreed Morrissey spoke well, but said Mosby stood out.

“I thought she did a good job, and I came not expecting that, I don't know much about her,” Olson said.

RELATED: Richmond voters rank schools as top issue for next mayor; seek honesty

The question that got the most reaction from the crowd was when Mosby asked candidate and councilman Jon Baliles, “When you voted for me for council president, did you know I would be Mayor if Mayor Jones stepped down?”

Baliles said,  “Yes, I did, and you'd be an improvement.”