MICHELLE MOSBY

Michelle MosbyCandidates 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 Michelle Mosby’s 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?

MICHELLE MOSBY: If we are to be a multimodal city (and all great cities are) then we must invest in the expansion of initiatives that increase access to biking and/or walking infrastructure. Our City has experienced a significant resurgence and population growth over the past several years. Through our strategic planning and redevelopment initiatives, we can take advantage of the opportunities that are before us to improve our transportation infrastructure that includes bicycle, pedestrian and transit facilities. I think UCI and some of the upgrades made for the event have given us insight into the important role that bike lanes can plan in allowing people to have safe mobility options that will provide everyone mobility freedom. The added benefit to investing in our multimodal infrastructure results in a healthier lifestyle and, for many, these this safe infrastructure is a necessity to their daily lives. You can expect to see improvements on all of our transportation facilities reflected as new development moves forward in our city.

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?

MOSBY: Res No 2012-R69-103 is clear in its intent to make RVA a bicycle and pedestrian friendly city. In order to achieve the intent of our Complete Streets Policy, our City must develop a multimodal transportation system plan that includes all modes of transportation. This multimodal system plan will identify our multimodal corridor and provide a foundation to develop a program of projects that may be developed and implemented in a manner that takes advantage of our economic development strategies, along with our state, federal and local funding resources. Through this multimodal system planning process, we will be able to identify where our multimodal investments will have the most benefits and we will begin to see a connected transportation system emerge that is safe for all users. We will develop and implement multimodal design guidelines that will be supported by our transportation policies going forward.

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?

MOSBY: Safety is my number one priority on all matters in the City of Richmond. Achieving zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 will require the city to take on a multifaceted parallel approach by first identifying where the traffic fatalities and serious injuries are occurring now and bring to the table new and innovative methods for improving the conditions in those areas. On a parallel path that will provide a longer-term solution, we will need to develop and implement multimodal system design. Through this multimodal system approach, we can design our streets to accommodate all users without compromising the functionality of the roadway system.

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?

MOSBY: The City has made tremendous strides in improving our bicycle infrastructure over the past several years. With the advancement of our RVA BikeShare program and the strategic placement of the bikeshare stations, we will be able to grow our bike lane network in a more deliberate fashion. Further, with the implementation of a new paradigm in planning for and developing our multimodal transportation projects through a multimodal system planning process, we will begin to see where connections are needed. We will work with all users of the bike facilities as we advance with a strategic multimodal approach to our transportation system.

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?

MOSBY: I believe that we must first maximize our existing funding sources by leveraging our local funding with state and federal funding. In order to do that, we first need to develop a program of multimodal projects that can be designed for and implemented in a strategic fashion. By developing a comprehensive multimodal transportation plan, the City will be in a much better position to pursue all sources of funding. We first need to properly plan for and develop projects so that they are ready when funding sources or grant opportunities become available. Without a comprehensive multimodal transportation system plan in place, it is difficult to put a dollar value on how much funding should be obligated. My administration would work to develop a comprehensive multimodal transportation system plan, along with an accompanying resource allocation plan that will advance a cohesive program of multimodal transportation projects.

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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?

MOSBY: The Mosby Administration will continue as i have done as City Council President which is bring all local governing bodies together to discuss and problem solve holistically. I will continue to champion CTE initiatives and forge business partnerships with schools. I will seek revenue enhancement opportunities and make decisions based on factual information. I will lead as great leaders do even when it’s uncomfortable.

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?

MOSBY: I will continue conversations that have resulted in the Mayors task force on school funding. The Mosby administration will take the conversation a step further with Transform Richmond’s Build Neighborhoods & Build Schools Campaign (Baltimore Model) where a combination of local, state, PPEA's, the business community, Richmond residents and many other partners are at the table.

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?

MOSBY: I will continue the dialogue and energy of a 21st century education for our school age residents. I do not believe the conversation should be held only during budget season. The task force put in place by the current administration is an excellent collaboration however the Mosby Administration will continue to seek ideas from other cities that have brought Business, Government (local)(state), Residents, and PPEA's to the table to bring resolve in a 5-10year time frame. Again dialogue as well as accountability regarding schools is multi-pronged we all play an important role in moving our city forward. My administration will have dialogue (Mosby's 60 Minutes) throughout the city we must be a city that is informed.

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?

MOSBY: My strategy for economic development will continue to reflect my goals to ensure we are competitive so that we can provide a 21st century education and take care of all of our city services. The Mosby Administration will Renew a sense of energy & enthusiasm as it relates to economic development. A dedicated source of funding for schools is a necessity for planning sake of all bodies of government. We will seek internal revenue enhanced opportunities in perfecting our systems and we will seek economic development projects that will yield a profitable financial return on investment as well as a workforce and or affordable housing component.

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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?

MOSBY: I plan to be a Mayor that the people of this City “can touch” much the same way that I have been a Councilwoman that my District has been able to touch.  This has been a consistent part of my platform since my first campaign in 2012. My constituents (most of them I believe) will tell you that I make special efforts to both educate and empower through information and dialogue. I have always striven to place all options concerning policy making on their proverbial “tables”; to provide all necessary information.  I expect (and will continue to expect) all of those who work for me to mirror such a commitment to being a true public servant; with all of that said the Master Plan (everyone will agree) is outdated and in need of revision particularly as it relates to the potential of the Southside. We can’t continue to virtually ignore 50% of our resources (both in land mass and people) and believe to get the best outcomes. 

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?

MOSBY: I am a believer that all good change starts from the bottom and works its way up, otherwise you have a few persons making decisions without input and/or institutional background knowledge of the communities affected.  I do like the efforts (at least in part) or the idea of MPACT but would like to see its role expanded as I would also like to see a more diverse representation on various Boards and Commissions.  These boards that make recommendations to our governing bodies should reflect our entire RVA community. In order for all voices to be heard they must first be in the room.   

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?

MOSBY: I will employ a concept I have been developing I entitled Mosby’s Minutes throughout the City.  Above all things I absolutely love engaging in real dialogue.  I relate to people and I believe they can relate to me if we simply take/make the time to be in each other’s spaces (not to be confused with faces!) I will hold scheduled meetings often throughout the City (I will come to them) and will additionally make myself available if/when an unexpected need arises.  I will be responsive via email and will also continue to be available via social media (I often dialogue with constituents via Facebook ©).  I will attend City Council meetings when my schedule permits and if invited will also attempt to make various Council District and Civic Association Meetings. What I would hope for is candid yet respectful two way communication- what I insist on would be open hearts and minds predisposed to compromise based on realistic options; I look for “win-win” scenarios. Lastly, I want to earn everyone’s trust that if it can be done (and it’s a great idea that should be done) than we will do it and if it can’t be done then I will be trustworthy and transparent enough to explain to citizenry why it can’t. 

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?

MOSBY: I would love to see RVA touted as America’s most inclusive City, the City that has something (whether it be opportunity, education, recreation, and/or sense of belonging) for everybody. How does community play a part? Through dialogue, through shared responsibility and accountability, through shared respect and humility.  We do it through an unwavering desire to see it happen and a “willing to do whatever” attitude to make it happen. 

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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?

MOSBY: I believe that this 2.25 miles stretch is an absolute jewel for the city and holds the key to many recreational and economic development opportunities. I look at cities such as Baltimore and Norfolk and am taken aback by the power of the water. I’m not just talking about the class 4 rapids and the James but the latent potential of everything around it. Everyone in the country knows it. It is time for us to actualize it. The challenge is always “how do you pay for it” and yet we will find a way to responsibly and incrementally execute aspects of the 2012 plan. Funding for projects is important and provides tangible evidence of progress, yet education and access must be incorporated into everything we do because building a love and passion for the river is vital to creating long-term, sustainable support for its successful future.

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?

MOSBY: I think we must continue to plan for the long-term, but implement small-scale, short-term projects that provide more access and use of the riverfront- getting real bang for our buck. This way when we are able (through grants, funding freed up through paying off of debt, even new revenue produced by economic development projects) we can commit dollars to bigger projects.

Priorities

  1. Pipeline walk retrofit
  2. Missing Link Trail
  3. Browns Island and River front terminal
  4. Riverfront Access of the Manchester side of the river (River Terrace) Manchester Green
  5. Farther down the line improvement further development of both Mayo and Belle Island

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?

MOSBY: I think that our city's DPU does a stellar job and is the best like it in the state. The department has over 1 billion dollars in assets and is well run. We have made improvements/upgrades in the past to avoid overflow and flooding and will continue to do so under my administration. For me, a successful system requires strategic, forward-thinking planning and implementation. We have both the staff and expertise to do just that, but we also need to make sure the resources (funding and staffing) are in place for our future.

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?

MOSBY: People will support efforts that they truly understand and believe. Helping a cause for something is much more likely when there is a passion behind it. All of this comes from education and awareness. We must help people understand how a small neighborhood can affect the larger system for water quality. What we do in our neighborhoods directly affects our enjoyment of the James River. When people truly love and respect something, they will make the effort to protect it. These smaller tributaries offer a wonderful opportunity to help people engage with the river at a smaller scale and closer to home. We must provide access to them and educate people on how they can do their part. As we move forward with more city projects, people will understand, support and encourage our efforts to protect not only the James River, but their neighborhoods as well.

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?

MOSBY: The Mosby Administration includes providing opportunities- continue to build the bike paths, provide improvements to the river including access and environmental initiatives, and programmatic initiatives through the City Parks and Recreation Department and the Mayors Youth Academy. To promote these opportunities, we should support PSA’s and social media to inform citizenry. I will work for collaboration with partnerships among groups such as the Mayor's office, schools, businesses, non-profits and most importantly residents. This is our city and yet many do not take in the full experience that is RVA.

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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?

MOSBY: The opportunity to provide our citizens with connections between Richmond, D.C. and the Northeast Corridor via a reliable, safe and convenient connection to our nation's capital must be acted on. This transportation investment is critical to the growth and development of our City and the Richmond Region. Reliable, higher speed rail service would provide new access to job opportunities for our residents, broaden the workforce for existing or new employers, reduce the reliance on the automobile, and provide a safer mode of transportation. We compete daily on a global platform and being a part of a higher speed rail system that connects us to some of the most important cities in the world will only enhance our position in the global economy.

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?

MOSBY: Main Street Station (MSS) has long served as the transportation hub of the City and our Region. The connections to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), local transit, BikeShare, Virginia Capital Trail, and the most heavily utilized interstate system in the Country, I-95, all converge around MSS. Shockoe Bottom has experienced a resurgence of activity with a significant amount of new residential and businesses locating within close proximity to our Historic Main Street Station. We must continue to build on what has been a long standing priority to have Main Street Station serve our City as the primary higher speed rail station.

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?

MOSBY: The barrier to regional cooperation is a perception of unwillingness, but I believe we are making strides as a region. In my 3 plus years on council I have experienced UCI and BRT as examples of collaboration. I will continue to insert myself and even start the conversation as it relates to regional cooperation. As the President of Council I have the opportunity to be on boards such as the Greater Richmond Partnership. This board is designed to promote our region and help cultivate economic opportunities. I will press upon all the need for regional transportation that serves as a catalyst for economic growth that is beneficial for everyone. I will foster regional collaboration through my belief that we are stronger together as a region and we can serve all of our citizens better by providing safe and reliable transportation options that go beyond our local boundaries.

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?

MOSBY: I believe the next route should be a south side route that not only connects north and south of the river but also connects into chesterfield. The south side is not only the most densely populated of the city but it also has the most potential for revitalization and building stronger communities. The next phase of development in the evolution of our city should be south side Manchester, Jeff Davis, Hull Street and Midlothian corridors. We need to have a strategic growth plan that will support the advancement of the Bus Rapid Transit and one that will reflect the desire and character of the residents currently living along these corridors.

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?

MOSBY: Yes. I do support a dedicated revenue stream for public transportation. The answer of how to accomplish that is not an easy answer. We are in tight budget times, with numerous competing interests. Among them are schools, basic city functions, housing, addressing poverty and numerous other vital activities. Support for public transit should be a regional effort and only through that process can we achieve an efficient, comprehensive system. This must be achieved to accomplish an economically sound system for the future. Again, I believe in a dedicated revenue stream for public transportation but the answer for how to do that comes with setting priorities, making compromises and working together with our partners, locally and regionally to develop a sustainable revenue source.

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?

MOSBY: I will continue to advocate for the South side and transportation in general as I know that development of both can have a critical impact to the future development of our city. We are a great city but we can be even greater if we are willing to do the hard work to get this right. The Richmond Transit Network Plan presents an extremely unique opportunity to make changes to the existing bus routes in a way that will better serve all of our citizens.

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