Incumbent Thornton facing 2 challengers in Fairfield District primary in Henrico
Ronald E. Carrington | 6/7/2019, 6 a.m.
All five seats on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors are up for election in November.
The Free Press’ focus has been on the Fairfield District Democratic primary where six-term incumbent Frank J. Thornton is seeking election to what he said would be his last four-year term in office. Mr. Thornton, 76, was first elected in 1995.
The retired Virginia Union University French professor is being challenged in the Tuesday, June 11, primary by Joseph W. Brown, a retired Henrico Transportation Department employee and founder of the Community of Hope Ministry, and Maurice Tyler, a businessman, veteran coach and founder of C.A.V.E., Coaches Against Violence Everywhere.
Frank J. Thornton currently serves on the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Capital Region Collaborative Organizing Council, the Maymont Foundation’s board of directors along with serving on the county’s governing body.
Q: Is this really the last time you will run for the Board of Supervisors?
A: That’s what I said and that’s what I plan to do. I look back over where I started with the challenges, especially the Eastern versus Western Henrico. I want to make sure I finish the course.
Q: Why is the planned $8 million Henrico Aquatics Center on Laburnum Avenue important to the Fairfield District?
A: That is one of the projects I have been working on for a very long time. The new center’s swimming program will “drown proof” Eastern Henrico. If we save one child from drowning, it will pay for itself.
Q: What economic justice goals you have achieved during your tenure on the board?
A: If you look at the Fire Department and the county workforce, you will see more African-Americans hired by Henrico County than any other of the surrounding counties. My philosophy is that you have to include people within your governmental services to make sure they can reap some rewards. Henrico also provides real estate tax relief to citizens who are 65 or older or are permanently and totally disabled. This is economic inclusion.
Q: What is “Project Pride and Joy”?
A: When I visit the community, I ask residents if they have a project they want to accomplish. I then ask them to give it a name and make a sign to put up. That identifies where the community project should be located, and when it happens, residents can see their tax dollars going back to their neighborhood.
Q: What does your concept of “possibility governance” mean?
A: You do the best you can while you can.
Maurice Tyler is chief operating officer of a cleaning company and coached in Henrico County for three decades. He started Coaches Against Violence Everywhere in 2016 after a 12-year-old girl was killed in the crossfire of two men in Richmond.
Q: Why are you running for the Board of Supervisors?
A: I don’t think the community has been represented in the right way. Because I am a product of the Fairfield community and understand the issues, it is my duty to step up.
Q: How would you serve the community in a way that has not happened?
A: I don’t feel public safety has been addressed properly in the Fairfield District. The district has the most low-income housing of any part of the county. County supervisors have not held owners of these properties accountable for letting their properties deteriorate. If elected, I am going to bring awareness to such housing issues.
Q: What other issue are you targeting?
A: We have the Math Science Center not being funded. The community didn’t know until the last minute. There is gap in communications between the county and residents.
Q: What are the positives and negatives you see in the Fairfield District?
A: I am happy about the new library, recreation and aquatic center on East Laburnum Avenue. However, we have to look at the beautification of our community. Eastern Henrico neighborhoods have potholes and trash everywhere.
Q: How has C.A.V.E. helped you to understand issues in your community?
A: I organized area coaches to make an effort to stop the violence in the community, especially stopping our children from being shot. That was three years ago. In the last few months, a 5-year-old girl on Byron Street was shot in the head and has to wear a helmet for the rest of her life. I am going to be the one, as a Henrico County supervisor, to do something about this ongoing violence.
Joseph W. Brown is the founder of Community of Hope Ministry, which offers support to people experiencing homelessness. He also is president of the Hechler Village Neighborhood Watch, participates in Henrico County’s Heroes as a mentor to youths and serves on the board of the anti-drug youth-focused Henrico Too Smart 2 Start Coalition.
Q: Why are you running for the Board of Supervisors?
A: I have lived in Henrico for 45-plus years. The Fairfield District was much better at that time than it is now. The community has become stagnant. I decided to run because we have not grown any. I am in this race to make a difference.
Q: How was the county better 40 years ago?
A: When I moved into Hechler Village, there was a shopping center named Eastgate Mall with quite a few quality stores. Now there is only a Walmart. This is an older community, and I think we deserve better.
Q: What needs to be done?
A: I want to revitalize the Fairfield District, starting with the infrastructure — paving streets, making public transportation more available and creating opportunities for small businesses to be successful. I will work with the School Board to help better our school system and provide summer jobs for students. We need to bring back family values — neighbors helping neighbors — and have more family recreation.