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Punch Drunk

Richmond's Next Mayor: Thinking Outside the Ballot Box



Richmond mayors can serve only two consecutive terms, and so the 2016 race to replace Dwight Jones will begin heating up in the coming months. Among presumptive candidates, at least according to the Times-Dispatch’s Graham Moomaw, are: city councilmen Jon Baliles and Chris Hilbert, Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney and Richmond School Board member Jeff Bourne.

This list is sure to expand and contract, but the real question is: Do we want someone with city government experience and proven dependability, or should we look outside of the box? And I’m talking about the ballot box, not the criminal record-check box. Unlike the people who try to get thankless gigs at Wal-Mart, America doesn’t care if people running for office have a clean record. The country is fair like that. So who else could step up to run our great city? More important, do we want them to?

Joe Morrissey — The former state delegate and firebrand is trying to run for state Senate, but Style’s Ned Oliver has reported that it’s a very real possibility that his long-term plans are to run for mayor. As for the jail time, the underage girl fiasco, the constant skirmishing and contention that seem to follow him around, his supreme confidence bordering on arrogance — well, none of it really bothers me. I’m not alone in that sentiment either, which is the really scary part for Richmond.

Maya Payne Smart — OK, so we lost Shaka, does that mean we have to lose Maya too? The Harvard-educated speaker and former freelance writer surely deserves credit for much of Virginia Commonwealth University basketball’s success — not to mention the success of their charity work raising money for the Friends Association for Children. Plus, she has old-school Richmond in the palm of her hands: Did you see how much money she raised as the Christmas Mother? Her campaign war chest would be a University of Texas-sized juggernaut to contend with, and as we just found out the hard way, money can buy everything.

Richmond Flying Squirrels Nutzy and Todd “Parney” Parnell — These two would need to run in tandem, as Nutzy is a squirrel and can’t communicate with humans. Although I think we know who’d be running the show. Now if we can just convert our monetary system to the baseball team’s Acorn dollars, this city would be sitting on a major surplus of nuts.

Charlie Diradour — A serious possibility. The successful Fan developer is a likeable character and definitely not a man prone to silence, but is he controversial enough? Maybe a cool, “Fightin’ Joe”-esqe nickname would better resonate with the voters. Dynamite Diradour. Charlie “In-Charge” Diradour. Charlie “And the Crusade Factory” Diradour.

Andrew Freiden — I have no idea if the NBC-12 meteorologist has any executive experience or relatable skills, but my grandma, like most area grandmas, loves him. And really, what else matters? Plus, did you see his dance moves in that “Happy” YouTube send-up?

Bill Bevins — (See Andrew Freiden, minus the dance moves.)

Ken Cuccinelli — Hey, the former Virginia attorney general’s comeback has to start somewhere, right? According to Style’s Peter Galuszka, the man who at one point dismissed climate change is helping to run an oyster farm on the Chesapeake Bay’s Tangier Island. He’s a changed man, people! Let’s elect him! It’s not like Richmond will immediately morph into Indiana. That’ll take years.

Eric Cantor — The former House majority leader and 7th District Virginia congressman is working at an investment bank and pulling down millions of dollars, but don’t let it fool you. His ego needs to be back in the spotlight. Would mayor of rinky-dink Richmond be enough? He could easily round up the votes, which is almost as scary as the Morrissey thing.

Clearly, Richmond has options.

City councilmen, government insiders, School Board members, developers, muscular human-squirrel men, delightful local television and radio personalities, famous Virginia politicos.

But I think what we really need is someone wise to lead this ship. Someone with years of experience and a keen sense of what’s right. Someone folksy. Someone who’s unduly grammatical. And most importantly, someone who knows Twitter.

Gene Cox, will you accept our nomination?

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.

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