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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney Declares Victory In Re-Election Bid

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaking to early voters at the Hickory Hill Community Center.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaking to early voters at the Hickory Hill Community Center. (Crixell Matthews/VPM)

With more than 104,000 reported votes, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney appears to have secured re-election.

At around 5 p.m. Wednesday, Richmond’s General Registrar’s Office reported unofficial results showing Stoney with the most votes in six of nine districts. A candidate needs to carry at least five districts to win. 

Stoney secured 38% of the city-wide vote, or roughly 40,000 votes. Alexsis Rodgers came in second, appearing to win two districts and 26% of the vote. City Council Member Kim Gray was right behind Rodgers, winning one district and just short of 26% of the vote. Candidates Justin Griffin and Tracey McLean didn’t win any districts and received 7% and 1% of the overall vote, respectively.

Stoney’s campaign declared victory after the district-level unofficial results were reported.

“Serving as Mayor of Richmond has been the honor of a lifetime,” Stoney said in a statement. “Thank you to all the supporters and volunteers who made this victory possible - I could not have done this without you. Most importantly, thank you to the voters for having faith in me and my vision for the city over the next four years."

Rodgers, who is currently the Virginia state director for the group Care in Action, said her campaign will be waiting for official results later this week. In a statement to VPM, Gray said she would remain committed to improving Richmond outside of elected office.

“It has been the honor of my life to serve on City Council for four years and the school board for eight years,” Gray said. “I deeply appreciate the sacrifices of my family and my supporters during my mayoral campaign.”

As of Wednesday night, the Richmond General Registrar was reporting that about 105,000 people voted for mayor in this year’s election, up from 101,594 in 2016. Stoney’s margin of victory city-wide was similar to 2016, when he received 36% of the vote. 

Stoney’s re-election bid came on the heels of a failed proposal to redevelop the Richmond Coliseum and the surrounding neighborhood, historically called Navy Hill. After spending nearly a year and a half negotiating the deal, City Council voted it down in February. Council members cited concerns over a lack of public engagement and skepticism around the projected benefits for the city. Gray, who was a vocal critic of the deal, repeatedly nailed Stoney during her campaign for chasing “big shiny objects.” 

But the Navy Hill deal seemed to take a back seat at times, as the coronavirus pandemic and a summer of near-nightly protests against police brutality dominated the conversation both within and outside of Richmond City Hall. 

Gray’s opposition to Stoney’s redevelopment deal put her on the side of local progressive activist groups like Richmond For All. The goodwill there was quickly squandered, though, after Gray publicly criticized some Black Lives Matter protesters this summer and became the subject of protests herself.

Rodgers, who ran to the left of Stoney, attacked him for allowing the Richmond Police Department to use tear gas, pepper spray and other ‘non-lethal’ weapons on protesters. 

Stoney also came under scrutiny after Gray requested the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into Stoney’s handling of a $1.8 million contract to remove Richmond’s confederate monuments. The shell company NAH, LLC, headed by a contractor who previously donated to Stoney’s campaign, received the contract. Stoney has denied allegations that the contract was awarded improperly.

Whatever criticism Stoney faced from the crowded field of challengers didn’t seem to affect his ability to fundraise for his reelection campaign. Shortly before Election Day he surpassed $1 million in campaign donations, dwarfing Rodgers’ $415,000 and Gray’s $391,000. Stoney also scored major party endorsements, including from Gov. Ralph Northam and Sen. Mark Warner.