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Wilder Adds Role to Elected-Mayor Plan

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He suggests that this "president of the council" also would run for election citywide. The mayor would run the city, while the council president would be head of City Council, assign chairmanships and run meetings.

"The mayor is ... the executive branch, and the council is the legislative branch," Wilder says, drawing a comparison to the governor and the state Senate, which is formally led by the lieutenant governor.

Another angle: Wilder says candidates for mayor and City Council president could run as a joint ticket, much like national presidential and vice-presidential candidates do.

For this plan to work, Wilder says, the candidates would have to live in different council districts. This would avoid accusations of one district being too powerful, he says, and would help ensure that black candidates wouldn't get shut out. "You're not going to have any racism because each side has to reach out to each other," Wilder says.

Wilder says he hasn't run his idea past his and Bliley's commission that is trying to get the at-large mayorship through the General Assembly.

For decades, City Council has selected a mayor from its own members. Council candidates have not been elected citywide since the Justice Department ordered Richmond to adopt a ward system in the 1970s. — G.W.

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