Folks have asked me, so what is your platform #AnnCan?
Well for starters, my campaign slogan is “Preserving History for Future Generations!” Whenever I ask the question, “Have you ever heard of Apostle Town here in the City of Richmond? I get crickets!
Apostle Town is an area in the North Jackson Ward community, where 200 African-American homeowner’s land was stolen from them. The decision of the racist leadership at the time was to acquire the land through eminent domain for the purpose of building the 95/Petersburg Tnpk, which would provide faster access for the white population moving out to the suburbs. The streets of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John, and St. James are all named after Apostles, which comprised the area once called Apostle Town.
Back in the 1940s, when the Virginia General Assembly decided that it was a good idea to build a highway right through the most vibrant African-American economy on the east coast, Jackson Ward, the citizens tried to use their rights to block the decision by voting the referendum down twice!!! After the war, there was no adequate representation in the General Assembly for African-Americans, so the racist leadership of then Gov. Harry Byrd, Sr. thought it was good to seize Apostle Town through this process.
The Richmond renaissance got its start in Jackson Ward right on 2nd street. This area was considered the Black Wall street after WWII. In 1902 when the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision was done “Separate But Equal” was far from what that decision was about. Maggie L. Walker and John Mitchell teamed up to organize a boycott against the street cars that were here. We may have been separate, but we thrived as equals within our own community.
Since the early 1930s and 40s, there was Massive Resistance to integrating white communities and the schools. Racist Jim Crow laws were adopted and the education system was hijacked by a false narrative of the outcome of the Civil War. The biased education that was taught to the future leaders of tomorrow, programmed a few generations to uphold racist ideologies of the confederacy. Due to the racist leadership and policies of the time is why the North Jackson Ward area is the most underserved area within the Third district today!
So as I began to craft my platform, I had to include the concerns I witnessed growing up in Battery Park, Ginter Park and North Jackson Ward neighborhoods. North Jackson Ward is where the lack of resources are evident, and the greatest need.
I spoke in front of City Council back in February before Covid. I spoke to the lack of resources for an area, the trash that is blows through the 900 block of North 1st Street, re-named after my father. There is no way I could sit back and not speak up. We are only as strong as our weakest link and that weak link is in the North Jackson Ward area.
You Don’t make Progress by Sitting on the Sidelines Whimpering and Complaining! You Make Progress by Implementing Ideas!Shirley Chisholm
The #AnnCan Plan for The Third!
- No property Tax increases, especially for our Seniors! Those residents on a fixed income should not have to pay the cost of losing their home because of high taxes. There should be some type of tax relief for those who have lived in the city for over 30+ years.
We must be informed and aware of “warehousing” tactics being used against our seniors, coaxing them to sell their properties. I am in support of protecting our seniors and their descendants, and working with our representatives on the federal level to address these consumer protection concerns.
2. As far as the Schools, I will work with the 3rd District School Board Rep. ensuring that we are providing the right funding for programs and curriculums that will prepare our students for success. We must have more transparency on the decisions being made that affect our students, and lets face it majority of those children are African-American. We do not need to tip toe around the obvious inequality within education. There is a lot of waste happening within our schools, and with the city!
We need to make sure the mental health services offered through the schools are fully funded and access is available to those families in need. There is already a shortage on teachers, bus drivers, substitutes and nurses, funding needs to be in place to address these pandemic outcomes.
Lets not forget that we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Budget cuts and spending habits MUST be transparent moving forward. The RPS budget has been increased for the FY2020-21, we need to make sure where the money is going and are we keeping our children safe during this pandemic.
As an entrepreneur, and the 1st African-American Female FAA Certified Drone Pilot in the Richmond Area, I will offer trainings on How to Fly A Drone, Drone Safety, and Test Prep for the FAA Part 107 Certification Test. I am offering the youth in my district an opportunity to learn a new innovative skill in which they will be also be able to learn about entrepreneurship, how to start a business, and express their creativity through the Lambert Aerial Academy. Drone technology and education will be a part of our future and we need to prepare our youth with the skills to compete. I am currently working with the Office of Community Wealth Building to share my drone expertise, and be an example the youth of our City need to see.
3. Transform the Richmond Police Department. I am in support of an effective Citizen Review Board (City Council recently passed a resolution to move forward with this). We need to ban chokeholds, and no-knock warrants #BreonnaTaylor. There has to be some type of check and balance when it comes to police officers that exhibit bias towards African-Americans. Over 90% of the police department’s budget goes towards salaries. In discussing the Qualified Immunity issue one officer said, “If that were to happen, we would not have any police officers on the force because they are not paying liability insurance for a job that pays $40-$50K/yr. So how do we hold those officers that want to demonstrate their privilege in ways that kills?
I had a candid conversation with the officers in the photo above. They answered a lot of my questions about police training, community policing, their mental capacity, the bad apples within the police department, and trust concerns African-Americans have of the police especially since there is a tense climate within our city.
My take aways from the conversation is that EVERYONE needs more education on what is involved when it comes to the police training and tactics that are used. The bias that some officers possess before they come on the job is my concern. I do know that there is a psychiatrist on call for those officers dealing with depression and other issues that come from the job. I am all for a CRISIS response team that includes: social workers, therapists, and psychiatrists, and etc. within the department that are called for non-emergency issues. Citizens who have mental illness issues should not be getting a rap sheet or murdered they need help!
A lot of services are offered to improve the relationship with the police and the community but because of trust people do not take advantage of the opportunities. The mindset and perceptions people have of persons of color needs to change. The change begins when we hold the mirror up and begin with ourselves.
We should be #1 in progressive development which equals the playing field of those residents that have been disenfranchised far too long here in Richmond. The mindset of the past we need to deal with so we can move forward and become #AUnitedRichmond.
4. I will propose Innovative Economic Development plans with collaborative regional measures building a skilled labor workforce, a pipeline from poverty to profitability! A downtown infrastructure project involving Community Input from the Start!
In order to increase the tax base for the city we need Infrastructure Projects that will galvanized those in need of a skill which will get residents back to work. There is a shortage of licensed electricians, HVAC installers, plumbers, and mechanics to name a few, and businesses can be a vessel for apprenticeship and mentoring programs for those necessary skills. Our City’s Technical School is not being utilized to the best of its ability. There should be a pipeline of students working towards skilled labor jobs, who may not want to attend college, but there is a path of hope and success for their future. An Innovative Development plan will also increase lodging, meals, and sales taxes which is the foundation of the City’s revenue.
We should be #1 in Short Term Rentals #1 in Amateur Athletics #1 In Schools #1 In Best Restaurants #1 in Learning from Our Past and Working Together to Move Forward for Our Future! There needs to be activity in downtown Richmond. We can be doing so much more as a city if we can craft how the future Richmond will look like. A diverse, community and culturally driven area that can demonstrate to the world how our past is not holding us back!A downtown development is coming and its in the Richmond 300 Master plan. There is a lot of history that we need to heal from and with the Black Lives Matter movement being a driving force for change, now is the time! How are we going to move past our racist history and rectify the poor policies that were put in place over 80 years ago? Now is the time to elect someone who can be that bridge builder we need for the 3rd district!
5. Eliminate Food deserts in the Third district. I plan to bring Vertical farming, which is the practice of growing produce in vertically stacked layers. The practice can use soil, hydroponic or aeroponic growing methods. Vertical farms attempt to produce food in challenging environments, like where land is rare or unavailable. Providing innovative ways to bring healthy food to our community, can create entrepreneurial opportunities, and teach our children how to grow their own food. The vertical farm will also supply fresh fruits and vegetables to local restaurants and food banks to address the need. I have spoken with Duron Chavis, an advocate in urban agriculture here in Richmond, on how to transform the roof of the Dr. Benjamin J. Lambert, III Center and make it sustainable in #TheThird.
REALITY CHECK~ Since this blog post was written and the release of the 2020-2021 budget, this platform idea of mine may not come to fruition due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the budget cuts for programs like this. Addressing the food insecurity a lot of residents face within North Jackson Ward is a major concern of mine. If people are not getting the proper nutrition then how can they learn in school and avoid having pre-existing conditions and contracting Covid-19.
Sen. Tim Kaine and myself at the Rally For Justice, held at Hovey Field on Virginia Union University’s Campus.
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(Authorized by Lambert 4 City Council)