Reva Trammell to Mayor Stoney: ‘I hope to God this is your last laugh’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond City Councilwoman Reva Trammell (8th District) questioned Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney in a tense exchange Wednesday following the mayor's budget proposal announcement. In that announcement, Mayor Stoney suggested raising Richmond's real estate tax and creating a 50-cent per pack cigarette tax in an effort to raise money for Richmond Schools and road projects.

"I'd like for the mayor to come back up here," Councilwoman Trammell said as Mayor Stoney sat down while most in the room applauded his presentation.

When Council President Cynthia Newbille (7th Distrtict) told Trammell that this meeting wasn't the appropriate time to question the mayor, Trammell did not back down.

"Are you saying that I cannot talk to the mayor?" Trammell asked. "Are you saying that I'm not going to be able to ask him... Mayor, where do you live? Do you own a house?"

"This is a presentation of the budget for the city," Newbille interjected.

"Yes it is," Trammell interrupted. "And I have a right to ask him."

When Newbille said Trammell could make a comment, Trammell seized the opportunity to do so.

"Mayor, you said you were not going to raise taxes when you ran for mayor. How can you stand up here before all of us and do this to the people?" she said. "You're going to sit there and have everyone clap for you, because you're talking about the schools, the children, and everything else. You can laugh all you want, but I'll tell you right now, you won't be laughing much longer, because this is not funny what you're doing to the people. You talk about the poor people, why don't you come over and see them struggling to try and pay these real estate taxes, to try and pay these utilities. Also, you're the one who helped say the people don't have to live in the city. How much money did that take away from the city? How many dollars did that take away?"

"Ms. Trammell, ah, thank you for your comment," Newbille said, believing Trammell finished speaking.

She was not.

"This is not fair for him to be able to sit there and laugh," Trammell continued. "I hope to God that this is your last laugh. You laughing at us, up here. This is not fair."

Richmond City Councilman Dr. Michael Jones later took Councilwoman Trammell to task on social media.

"The exchange that took place in Council Chambers is rooted in a type of privilege that is divisive and destructive. To bring up someones age and renter vs owner status when 60% of our residents rent is troubling. Especially when he is a young African American Male," Jones tweeted. "We get to be upset - outraged - whatever else you are free to feel. But we are called to lead and leaders should set the example not be made the example."

Richmond City Council will discuss the mayor's budget plan on Monday, March 11.

Transcript of the exchange

Reva Trammell: I'd like for the mayor to come back up here.

Levar Stoney: I didn't know we were taking questions Madame President.

Cynthia Newbille: We will have, at most, comments. We reserve our work sessions for the deep dive in these budgets. So I will ask, if they're comments, brief comments, from any members that will we do that in this moment.  And then we will reserve and you should have before you the work plan. Our first session will be Monday, March 11.

Trammell: Are you saying that I cannot talk to the mayor? Are you saying that I'm not going to be able to ask him... Mayor, where do you live? Do you own a house?

Newbille: Okay.

Stoney: Madame President.

Newbille: Okay. Just one second.

Newbille: This is a presentation of the budget for the city.

Trammell: Yes it is. And I have a right to ask him.

Newbille: What I just said is that you may have a comment, but we will all do that in order. That is it. So, Ms. Trammell, please proceed with your comment.

Trammell: Mayor, you said you were not going to raise taxes when you ran for mayor. How can you stand up here before all of us and do this to the people? You're going to sit there and have everyone clap for you, because you're talking about the schools, the children, and everything else. You can laugh all you want, but I'll tell you right now, you won't be laughing much longer, because this is not funny what you're doing to the people. You talk about the poor people, why don't you come over and see them struggling to try and pay these real estate taxes, to try and pay these utilities. Also, you're the one you helped say the people don't have to live in the city. How much money did that take away from the city? How many dollars did that take away?

Newbille: Ms. Trammell, ah, thank you for your comment.

Trammell: This is not fair for him to be able to sit there and laugh. I hope to God that this is your last laugh. You laughing at us, up here. This is not fair.

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