Joe Morrissey addresses about 40 people at an event Tuesday night in Shockoe Bottom. (Photo by Mark Robinson)
Why announce that you’re running for mayor when you could, instead, announce that you will announce that you are running for mayor?
The pre-announcement is, at best, a practical way to maximize what is otherwise the most boring part of any campaign: the beginning. Drawing out the process of declaring one’s bid builds anticipation and stirs us media folk into a frenzy. Local news outlets cover both. For some hopefuls, two bites at the apple can bolster name recognition, which will be critical in a mayoral field that could balloon to more than 10 candidates.
So far this campaign season, we’ve seen Fan-based developer Charlie Diradour post a photo of his council candidacy paperwork in the registrar’s office, then tell the newspaper an official announcement is coming; Jack Berry last week resigned from Venture Richmond only to tease on Twitter, “Holy crap. I just quit my job after 18 years. What do I do next?; and Tuesday night, Joe Morrissey delivered an address on his vision for the city.
Morrissey has hinted at a mayoral run for months. What he has billed as a “major announcement” - cough, “I’m running for mayor,” cough – is slated for Thursday in South Richmond.
About 40 people showed up to the Southern Kitchen in Shockoe Bottom on Tuesday night at Morrissey’s invitation, for what was, it turned out, another pre-announcement.
The crowd included African-American clergy, radio personality Clovia Lawrence, as well as the family of the late Leonidas Young, a former mayor of Richmond and a friend of Morrissey’s.
Morrissey, a 58-year-old former state delegate and defense attorney, was suffering from a splotchy red poison ivy rash on his face, but seemed no worse for the wear as he glad-handed supporters and old friends.
Myrna Warren, Morrissey’s 20-year-old fiancé, last week gave birth to the couple’s second child, Bella Noel. Warren soothed the five-day-old infant as her mother, Deidre Warren, occupied the couple’s 1-year-old, Chase.
The Rev. Joe Ellison, founder and senior pastor of Essex Village Ministries in Eastern Henrico, offered a brief introduction.
“Right now, the clock is ticking in Richmond, and we need leadership,” Ellison said. “I have no doubt in my mind, in my spirit, my soul, that this man can provide that leadership.”
Morrissey delivered his 30-minute remarks with a refrain: “The next mayor should… .” It was understood among the people in the room that he was not simply suggesting a course of action for the city’s six actual declared mayoral candidates, but laying out his own platform.
He covered education (“I’ve got K-12 coursing through my veins!”) public transportation (“Transportation has always been seen as the key to getting out of poverty. Let’s make it work.”) and the city’s troubles with its comprehensive financial annual report ("Of the 138 municipalities in the state … guess who was dead last in filing the 2014 report? Richmond!”)
He concluded his 30-minute remarks Tuesday by perpetuating the charade of indecision.
“There’s so much that can be done in our city that can make it so great,” Morrissey said. “I’ve got a ton of ideas – should I decide to announce in two days at the South Richmond Satellite Lounge at 5:30 that I’m going to run for mayor.”