RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is nearing the end of his first year in office, and in a wide ranging interview with CBS 6, Stoney said he his proud of the growth in City Hall.
Stoney said he hangs his hat on several accomplishments in his first year on the job: the city submitted its Comprehensive Annual Finanical Report three weeks early (the first time it has been on time in several years), city workers have filled more than 23,000 potholes this year, and free vision screenings for each RPS school student.
"I walked in with the number one goal of restoring the confidence of the citizens of this city and restoring the confidence of the employees here at City Hall; that we can strive for excellence and we shouldn’t accept mediocrity," Stoney said. "We’re never going to be 100% perfect, but you will get an excellent effort out of the employees who work here at City Hall. I think we did that in year one, and I got more to do in 2018."
Violent crime still plagues the city, especially several of Richmond's public housing communities. Stoney pushed back at the notion that violent crime is up compared to this time last year, saying overall violent crime is down 3 percentage points. Homicides and shootings are up, Stoney acknowledged.
The mayor expressed his confidence in the job being done by the leadership within the Richmond Police Department, and looked ahead to several initiatives to combat violent crime.
"What I'm going to do in 2018, working alongside the chief [Durham], is ensure that we have the officers on the street, walking the beat, in some of our high crime areas of the city," Stoney said. "You're going to see us team that up with the use of technology, the deployment of the gunshot detection system as well. And also, I think working with City Council, we can add some cameras, CC-TV closed circuit cameras, to the mix as well."
Although the project began before taking office, orange construction barrels dot Broad Street as the GRTC Pulse project continues. The incentive completion deadline was not met, and some businesses along the Broad Street corridor said the construction has majorly impacted their business.
Stoney said he believes the project will be a good thing for the city in the long run, despite what he described as "growing pains."
"I want folks to come dine out with me at these different restaurants along the Broad Street corridor. Come shop with me along the corridor. Let's come out and support our businesses. They've done so well to stay with us during this time of inconvenience; I want us to partner to bring them some dollars for their coffers," Stoney said. "I'm optimistic that we will have the BRT operational by June, that's what I'm focused on."
CBS 6 reporter Jake Burns asked Mayor Stoney about the new superintendent of schools, plans to build a new arena in Richmond, and lesson he has learned over the past year. You can watch their complete conversation below.
Part 1 - Lessons learned over 1st year, plans to revitalize Coliseum, Pulse construction impact on business
Part 2 - New RPS Superintendent, violent crime rate in 2017
Part 3 - Lumpkins Jail site and Shockoe Valley, work-life balance, vision for 2018