Mayor Stoney brought ‘sunshine of optimism’ to Richmond

1/26/2018, 2:01 p.m.

Re “ Jury still out: Mayor Levar M. Stoney finishes first year amid ambivalence despite human touch,” Free Press Jan. 4-6 edition:

Despite folks freezing in heatless apartments, the prevailing homicide statistics and despicable schools, Mayor Levar M. Stoney has brought a sunshine of optimism to this capital city.

His trademarks that first began to brighten Richmond were his fun socks and that innocent, robust smile. Lighten up on him. In the Midwest, they would tag him a tenderfoot; in a police department, a hotshot rookie. I predict he will make the city proud!

I like the man and make no apologies for my opinion. I see Mayor Stoney as a transitional leader for this town. In the blink of an eye, he can switch that smile and congenial tone to one with serious willingness to listen.

Mayor Stoney’s milestone moment that defined his character in his first year was his ability to listen, learn and be inquisitive. The Lee statue rally on Monument Avenue could have been a Charlottesville-type disaster times three. But that wasn’t happening here. His maturity became evident when he accepted and respected the recommendations of Police Chief Alfred Durham and others, supporting an organized approach to protect lives and property and not disgracing this great city.

Good character runs with good judgment. My point being that Mayor Stoney’s decision to keep Chief Durham and Selena Cuffee-Glenn, Richmond’s chief administrative officer (from the past administration), speaks to his leadership traits and judgment.

My lunch meeting with Mayor Stoney, Chief Durham and others this past summer regarding the formation of a Richmond Regional Mounted Police Unit and building a stable to accommodate them was extended beyond the planned time to meet. The mayor knew little regarding the concept of mounted police units. But at the meeting, he was receptive, expressing again, a willingness to listen, learn and raise valid questions.

Mayor Stoney is a young man, yes, but the political weeds can alter his focus and commitment to serve this city with integrity. My advice to Mayor Stoney: Keep the weeds cut and the grass will prevail with continued success. Mayor Stoney knows for sure by now his buffet of challenges in Richmond demands that he get a large plate.

To our previous mayors, Tom Bliley, Roy West, Henry Marsh, Doug Wilder, Dwight Jones and Tim Kaine, and to our new governor, Ralph Northman, I say: Call Mayor Stoney. Praise this young man and ask how you can help him keep Richmond’s sunshine of prosperity and quality of life aglow.

And send him some socks!