Eight candidates compete in mayoral election

Improvement of city schools is a major issue in campaign

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Eight candidates are vying in a November election to be the next mayor of Richmond.

One of the top issues in the campaign is improving Richmond City schools.

The candidates include:

  • 1st District City Councilman Jonathan T. Baliles (son of former Gov. Gerald Baliles);
  • John F. “Jack” Berry, former director of Richmond Ventures;
  • Bobby J. “BJ” Junes, a retired real estate consultant;
  • Joseph D. Morrissey, a former state delegate and Richmond commonwealth’s attorney;
  • City Council President Michelle R. Mosby;
  • Levar Stoney, former secretary of the commonwealth under Gov. Terry McAuliffe;
  • Bruce W. Tyler, an architect and former councilman;
  • Architect Lawrence Williams.

Many city schools have struggled. In August, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that overall pass rates on Standards of Learning tests in the school district declined in history, science, writing and math.  The district’s writing pass rate, for example, declined from 48 to 45 percent.

School districts across the state meanwhile saw a 1 percentage point increase in the number of students showing proficiency in reading, math and science.

A high concentration of poverty among Richmond students is one cause cited for the schools’ performance.  About 25 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty, and the poverty rate for children is even higher, 39 percent, according to the 2016 Kids Count Data Book, a report produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

School officials told the Times-Dispatch they were disappointed by the latest SOL pass rates but point to an academic improvement plan now in place that is designed to boost the district’s performance.

The winner of the mayoral election will succeed Dwight Jones, a former state legislator who has led the city since 2009.

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