BOBBY JUNES

Bobby Junes suspended his mayoral campaign Nov. 4, 2016.

Bobby JunesCandidates for Richmond mayor received questionnaires from local nonprofit organizations James River Association, Richmond Forward, RVA Rapid Transit, Sports Backers, and Storefront for Community Design. Their responses — regarding public education, transportation, urban planning and the riverfront — will guide the Mayorathon, a candidate forum scheduled for Sept. 29.

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Candidate Bobby Junes’ responses to the questionnaires appear below.


Responses have been published as received; no content has been edited beyond being formatted for the web.

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EDUCATIONNEIGHBORHOODS | RIVER | TRANSIT

Biking / Walking

QUESTION 1 - TRANSPORTATION EQUITY

Biking and walking not only improves public health, but it is a prevalent form of transportation for people who can’t afford a car and/or gas, are too young to drive, or are not mentally or physically able to drive. According to Census data, nearly 22 percent of Richmond households do not own or otherwise have access to a car. The challenge for Richmond is to increase access to safe biking and walking for opportunities for all citizens. 

What measures can we expect your administration to take to expand access to safe walking and biking infrastructure for all Richmond residents?

BOBBY JUNES: Best communicated as a "Two Way Link" system. Would have the Planning Commission start to enforce or start to acknowledge the Complete Street Resolution. All future individual projects to be looked at as if a link in a chain. How could / can the proposed project add to the inter-city biking as well as walking avenues of travel. Put the horses in front of the cart.

QUESTION 2 - COMPLETE STREETS

In October of 2014, Richmond City Council passed a Complete Streets Resolution (No. 2014-R172-170) that states the City will – within one year – modify street design and construction manuals, codes, ordinances, and standards to reflect that “all transportation improvement projects in the city be planned for, designed, and constructed to provide appropriate accommodation for persons of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit passengers, and motorists, while promoting safe operations for all users.” Nearly two years later, these changes have not been adopted.

If elected Mayor, how would you work to implement the City’s Complete Streets Policy?

JUNES: Start by composing a "Street Index Sheet". This document to list Type of street project undertaken, Date Start, Date Complete, District, Cost, and Primary User. Utilize this index with which to priorities planned or missing link street improvement projects. Assign a 2 year conditional clause component with which to start project or require a resubmit of the project.   

QUESTION 3 - VISION ZERO

Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. On March 7, 2016, Richmond City Council passed a Vision Zero Resolution (No. 2016-R011) that “supports the development of a Vision Zero program for the City of Richmond with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries in road traffic to zero by the year 2030.”

As Mayor, what policy steps would you take to improve education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency response with the purpose of achieving zero traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030?

JUNES: To start recognizing those situations whereby the contributing factor made a difference. Are we stepping toward the goal of Vision Zero - or are we stepping away from the goal of Vision Zero. Those individual whose performance stand out will be publicly recognized, the event highlighted, and number of traffic and serious inury displayed.  

QUESTION 4 - INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

In May of 2015, the City of Richmond finished work on the city’s first Bicycle Master Plan, which calls for implementation of 135 miles of new bikeways by 2025. By the end of 2016, the city will have 25 miles of bikeways on the ground, all of which have been “low hanging fruit”. However, few if any of our new bikeways connect to each other or major destinations.

As Mayor, how would you grow the mileage of bikeways in Richmond to fill in the gaps and form a connected network?

JUNES: Refer back to question 1 "Two Way Link" system whereby any / all projects presented to the Planning Commission to have additional comment. Similar to current "Environmental Impact" study. Except we consider during the pre-planning what or how any proposed construction project can enhance bikeway travel.

QUESTION 5 - FUNDING

Establishing safe and accessible places for people to bike and walk for transportation will require additional funding for capital projects, either in the form of Federal grants, State revenue-sharing, or the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). In May of 2016, Mayor Jones proposed $500,000 in the FY2017 CIP budget for bicycle infrastructure – more than any previous fiscal year – in addition to funding for sidewalks, crosswalks, and traffic calming. Furthermore, City Council added $300,000 to fully fund the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, a walking and biking bridge from Brown’s Island to Manchester.

Do you support pursuing additional funding (in the CIP or other sources) for biking and walking infrastructure? If yes, how much?

JUNES: Yes - we have to be cognitive to the number, approximately twenty two percent (22%), of local citizens already restricted from driving or without automobile ownership. I would follow the current trend and propose another $500,000. These types of improvements could also easily be reflects / recorded within my proposed "Street Index Sheet". 

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Education

QUESTION 1 - INTER-GOVERNMENT REFORMS/INTENTIONALITY

Richmonders are long tired of stories of inter-government dysfunction and miscommunication between the Mayor, City Council, and School Board when it comes to education. Prime examples include the annual contentious budget season and the discoordination in school construction and operation that led to the failed opportunity with a new MLK Middle School.

What will you do to ensure that your office bolsters inter-governmental efforts to support a world-class education system?

JUNES: Install system that lays out as well as prioritized items which city council and school board both commit too. The / these fixed variables, part of overall formula, too be allocated on the front end of each council meeting agenda. Prioritize schedule which will reflect top rated issues we commit to. 

QUESTION 2 - SUSTAINABLE FUNDING

An increased and sustainable stream of education funding will be needed overcome the backlog of facilities needs caused by systemic disinvestment, and to meet the needs of educating students from highly-concentrated poverty. With Richmond’s limited bond capacity, revenue streams, and disadvantage from state funding policies, this will not be an effort that Richmond’s residents can bear alone.

What is your plan to identify the necessary combination of state, private, and local revenues to provide sustainable funding for an education overhaul?

JUNES: I) Explore recent state legislature to make sure the city is receiving the bulk amount of state funds available based on the amount of lower income / poverty stricken citizens that reside in urban boundary. Earlier in July 2016 state governing body passed new standards on ratio of money available to poverty areas. II) Stick with Economic Partnership plan - adopt a teamwork model to insure private employer's matched up with city citizens work force. III) Consider a public-private tax investment surcharge. Be based on a total revenue to net income maximized level. This fee not to exceed the individual entity total amount of assessed Real Estate tax. 

QUESTION 3 - TRANSFORMATIVE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Recent events have shown the immense goodwill of our community for city schools: citizens came out in droves to support funding for Richmond Public Schools. Likewise, Richmond's business community contributes amply to education initiatives every year. With all this good intention, we still lack transformational partnerships between the schools and business, neighborhood, or philanthropic service providers.

What will you do to maximize community support for public education by establishing transformative partnerships which empower individuals towards sustainable change?

JUNES: Work with local educational neighborhood, philanthropic, and special interest groups that interact with / or through the present school system. Effectively communicate how these different groups have contributed resources (time, money, services) that have made a positive impact to a local public school facility or which has enhanced a particular school's student body population at large. Looking for instances that build bridges, connect, show associations, as well as reflect open mind.       

QUESTION 4 - STRATEGIC ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

A combination of tax abatements and incentives used to attract businesses, develop historic properties, and boost tourism have nonetheless diminished the taxable property base in Richmond. Private market trends have shifted considerably in recent years, but our tax policies and economic understanding continue to leave Richmond Public Schools’ funding – which many voters claim is a top investment priority – short.

What is your economic development strategy to provide incentives or negotiate benefits, which recognizes education as a priority?

JUNES: Will utilize all public / private avenues which commit to counter poverty. We traditional use to or hearing the high / successful rates pertaining to Business operations. Time to come full circle and communicate the negative or consequently effects of our economic development which are prevalent as reflected in the percentages of poverty. The rates of our inner city poverty will serve as guideline. They will reflect if our remedial efforts are heading in the right direction.     

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Neighborhoods

QUESTION 1

The City of Richmond has undertaken some successful planning processes in the past decade like the Downtown Master Plan and the Richmond Riverfront Plan. Each of these processes valued civic engagement and put forth results that have been embraced by the public.

As the City’s Master Plan is updated in the coming years, how will you as Mayor ensure that the city has a robust and inclusive civic engagement process?

JUNES: Continue with the same past tradition demonstrated in both the prior Master Plan as well as within the Riverfront Plan by encouraging citizen participation. Will advocate a progression of our current traditional profit orientated model to a expanded open ended ACE (Active Citizen Engagement) model. Move from a passive public participation mode to one whose emphasis is a active public participation mode. A public participation continuum - 5 steps (publicity, public educ., public input, public interaction, & public partnership) - to get, keep, utilize and engage citizens input. Planners must develop public participation program that meet specific goals, objectives, and circumstances of each project. I will stress the public interaction (two way communication)  aspect.        

QUESTION 2

As the population continues to increase in the City of Richmond, conversations about displacement, housing affordability, and neighborhood change are top of mind for Richmonders. One effort to tackle these challenges was seen through the establishment of the first Office of Community Wealth Building in the nation.

Building on this framework, what tools do you think the City could use to promote more equitable development?

JUNES: Time to come full circle with this issue. As long as the city's poverty rate continues to grow - the city will continue to be actively engaged in guiding as well as strengthen good values in school, workplace, and home areas. Start by acknowledging the importance of the role education plays in the process. This is one area where we have chance to make change.

QUESTION 3

The great neighborhoods that make up the City of Richmond each have different stories, legacies, histories, and tomorrows. People, your constituents, continue to work for a better quality of life for themselves, their families, and their friends.

How will you engage with Richmond neighborhoods to keep your finger on the pulse of our city? What will you ask of the community to help you with your job?

JUNES: Main challenge engaging and keeping one's finger on pulse of city is by being open to prime issues confronting the city, metro area, and state. By attending separate city council district monthly community meetings. Target a bi-monthly scheduling process. The community to best assist by realizing that there are five steps involved with Active Citizen Engagement process. Start from a passive state progressing to active state involvement. That they realize there are unique needs of each undertaken - they are designed to function within available Time, Personnel, and Budget items of each individual project.    

QUESTION 4

You’ve read the many superlatives given to Richmond over the past few years, for our great food and dining communities, our hospitality industry, our river, and our entrepreneurial culture just to name a few. These come from specific neighborhoods and cover the community at large.

What superlative would you like to see for our as a headline? What role did the community play in its own transformation?

JUNES: Superlative headline to communicate our ability to turn around a current schools image of offering substandard or minimal quality academic performance to one that is in-line with state standards. Secondly, a community transfer role as one which progress through the steps as well as process of a "passive" to a "active" type of citizen engagement program. 

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River

QUESTION 1

The James River Park System saw more than 1.3 million visitors in 2015, making it the most-visited attraction in the region. Many believe the park system is underfunded and understaffed.

What is your plan for supporting the James River Park System?

JUNES: Two aspects to support James River Park System. One element is protecting the natural wildlife - birds, fish, mammals. Second element is to keep water quality at a acceptable minimal pollution level. The JRPS central location gives / makes it a prime location with which to attract and entertain local as well as metro area residents. With Stone Bewery project already in initial stages of development the City's eastern boundary is set, and it should draw more visitors to JRPS.  Secondary - subordinate - plan would be to expand the bike / walk trail east to west.

QUESTION 2

Richmond's riverfront is experiencing a transformation catalyzed by public and private investment. The City's ability to fund capital projects may be limited in the coming years.

How will you continue implementation the Richmond Riverfront Plan? Which projects are priorities?

JUNES: Not just targeting the producers of energy but also teaching people to reduce the amount of pollution that they are currently, actively, involved in creating. Show them pictures, visual  illustrations, and short documentaries reflecting the before pollution, after pollution, and after cleanup scenario. Priority projects to be those that are wetland related. Regeneration of a parcel of land back to a natural state.   

QUESTION 3

Water quality in the James River is improving thanks to the City's Long Term Control Plan and the Stormwater Utility.

How will you address the City's Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system and ensure water quality improvement continues?

JUNES: This is a prime example of whereby a long term problem requires a long term solution. The city is enrolled in state plan that target a larger Chesapeake Bay preservation project. Part of the effort is to clean up or improve the water quality standard. City's CSO combines both storm / sewer water systems as one together. Citizens can now be made more aware that those using the system have a net impact on the quality of overall pollution. Especially when dealing with the nitrogen and phosphorus ingredients.   

QUESTION 4

Tributaries of the James River (Reedy Creek, Upham Brook, Gillies Creek) are experiencing water quality improvement thanks to the efforts of City staff in recent years, but these projects do not come without controversy.

How will you ensure neighborhood-scale water quality improvements continue and address community concerns?

JUNES: By promoting cleanliness. Letting the citizens know / reminding them that this is a community project that is already in motion. That through the efforts of all parties together that we have began the process of water quality revitalization. Encourage civic groups, neighborhood associations, and non-profit entities to sponsor / highlight local neighborhood projects that impact / effect cleaning up of the Richmond area. Urban style regeneration of a property back to a more natural state of usage. 

QUESTION 5

The James River Association is a part of the No Child Left Inside Coalition, working to increase every child's access to environmental education and meaningful outdoor experiences.

What is the Mayor's role in ensuring every child has access to outdoor education experiences?

JUNES: Start with a River Art school project. Tie art with natural environmental setting. Leave the specifics to individual school or sponsor. Wildlife session showing / learning how to protect different animals. Ability to identify the separate rodents, types birds, and larger mammals. The older children can later be entailed with similar session regarding plants, trees, and vegetation. That RVA has a great park system. By keeping it that way we all, young, middle, as well as old age can enjoy the outdoor life as it is meant to be.

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Transit

QUESTION 1

State and federal plans are in the works to make Richmond a stop on a proposed higher speed rail route along the eastern seaboard.

Do you support a higher speed rail connection between Richmond and the Northeast Corridor?

JUNES: Yes, this has been in planning stages for a long time along with the plan to go south of Richmond also. Allow more people to work in Richmond also allows people to take jobs out of city. Time to start constructing this system before our lifetime ends. Richmond has always been a rail capital and center of rail transportation.

QUESTION 2

The station options being proposed for a higher speed rail connection in Richmond are Main Street Station, a Broad Street Station, and a Boulevard Station.

Which Richmond station option do you think offers the greatest opportunity for economic development and connectivity?

JUNES: Main Street station is best suited as it gives ease of access to center city, to canal walk, and to newly approved Stone Brewery. This brings ability to move masses of people to convention center and to active economic development along the canal walk.  

QUESTION 3

The Richmond Regional Transit Vision Plan will be complete in the fall of 2016. This project, which is being undertaken by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation in partnership with the jurisdictions of Metro Richmond, will offer the layout of a regional public transit network, but one premised on regional cooperation.

What are the barriers to regional cooperation from your perspective, and how do you intend to foster more collaboration in order to bring this much-needed plan to fruition?

JUNES: Need to make surrounding counties and towns part of plan - not excluded or secondary to metro area plan. Share benefits as participating parties should be offered to receive somewhat equal payback for being "active member.  

QUESTION 4

The Broad Street BRT route will be a first of its kind in our region.

What do you think is the next key corridor to focus on expanding our BRT system? Why?

JUNES: The Route 33 corridor. It is a centrally located and expansive route that would pull a lot of users to a central area. It also runs more North - South. Certainly be as much benefit to Henrico County as it would benefit City of Richmond. Stepping stone with shared benefits whereby all parties to the project obtain piece of the active participation distribution.

QUESTION 5

The most successful transit networks in the country have a dedicated revenue stream, and our lack of dedicated funding for public transportation has been cited as the number one challenge to providing transit for the region.

Do you support a dedicated source of funding for transit? If so, what funding source would you prefer? If not, why not?

JUNES: Yes I support dedicated source funding on a limited basis. Perhaps a initial start-up period of 6 - 12  months. After kick off period the system needs to convert over on a phase basis to become more like a private operating business. Its focus to achieve financial success as a  interdependent self funded entity.

QUESTION 6

The Richmond Transit Network Plan (RTNP), which will be complete in January 2017 and is being undertaken by the City in consultation with Jarrett Walker + Associates, is an incredibly unique opportunity to enhance the bus lines for which the City pays, particularly in coordination with the BRT.

How will you personally play a role in the creation and implementation of this plan, regardless of the outcome of this election?

JUNES: Certainly any new system that makes the operations more effective over efficiency should be looked at given the long range of plan. Play role as a citizen and resident of the City of Richm attend open forum to hear discussions regarding the Richmond Transit Network Plan.

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