RICHMOND, Va. — An entire day after election parties for the 2016 Mayoral candidates, the final votes are in, and Levar Stoney is the Mayor-elect.
During his campaign’s watch party at Wong Gonzales restaurant, an eager crowd saw the former Secretary of the Commonwealth’s polls climb from third place over the course of the night. Results were not yet official until Wednesday evening when absentee ballots had been counted as well.
“Stoney shook a lot hands and has literally been raised inside the Democratic Party, and is now the capital city face of that party’s machine in Virginia. So, will he carve his own political path?,” said Ana Edwards, Chair of the Sacred Grounds Historical Reclamation Project.
Sacred Grounds has championed a memorial park in the City’s historic Shockoe Bottom, and Stoney is in support of that. The area was once the second-largest slave trade market in America.
Leading up to the election, Stoney’s campaign utilized door-to-door canvassing, including the aid of Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
“We spoke to the concerns of every resident,” Stoney said. “We put together a broad-based coalition that looks like the City of Richmond.”
Stoney thanked former candidate Councilman Jon Baliles, who was present in the crowd. Days before the election, Baliles dropped out and endorsed Stoney.
“I think it’s time that this city looks at turning the corner to new leadership in a younger generation to lead it,” Baliles said.
Prior to the election, polls had indicated candidates Joe Morrissey and Jack Berry had the lead, and one poll conducted just prior to the televised debate showed 38-percent of undecided voters.
“Jon Baliles said to vote for Levar Stoney so I figured I would go with him,” said Matt Beckwood, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University and a previously undecided voter who attended Stoney’s party. Another reason Beckwood couldn’t “get behind” Berry was the fact that Berry used to support a stadium, rather than a memorial park in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom.
Edwards, who has spearheaded a push for memorialization, explained that her group had met with Stoney before the election and asked him to convene a city-wide meeting for the discussion of how a memorial park can be realized.
“This park is needed to change Richmond’s face to itself and the world,” Edwards said. “We have to tell our stories thoroughly and well.”
“I’ve always promised that I will be a Mayor that listens to all of us,” Stoney said.