First wishes for 2022: | Richmond Free Press

With the start of 2022, the Richmond Free Press invited selected officials to share their most important wishes for the New Year. Here are their responses:

To be healthy, prosperous and secure

Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney

“In 2021, we experienced the painful reality that the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us. More than 390 city residents died from the virus last year, and the impact it has had on lives. – from job loss among working adults and loss of learning among our students, to a deadly outbreak of gun violence – is still disproportionately experienced in our most vulnerable communities.

But 2021 has also been a year in which we have shown resilience. We have taken steps to recover and sowing seeds in the form of significant investments that will take root and provide a better future for our communities and families. This is why I am very optimistic for 2022, when these investments start to turn into real change that will empower our residents and improve the quality of life for all who live, work and play in the city of Richmond.

We’re investing $ 78 million – more than half of the city’s US $ allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act – to rebuild and renovate community centers and expand parks. We have set aside $ 20 million to build affordable housing, and millions more to redevelop public housing, promote health equity and directly address gun violence.

We continue to seek economic opportunities for our residents – from expansions of existing businesses like that of the CoStar Group, to new developments that promise better jobs, housing, businesses and public amenities in our downtown innovation district ( downtown) and in the diamond district on the edge of Scott’s addition.

This town is my family, so my most important wish is the same one that I imagine all Richmond residents have for their families, their neighbors and those they love: to be healthy, prosperous and safe.

We are doing this by vaccinating more Richmond residents against COVID-19. Only 67% of adults have the vaccine now and we need to step up our defense to protect everyone, especially the sick and the elderly.

We do this by continuing our efforts to build trust and cooperation between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect.

And we do it by supporting economic development that leaves no one behind – by helping families have jobs and reducing the burden on taxpayers by generating much-needed income for the city’s services and priorities.

In short, we act like a family. We come together to support, love and trust each other.

By working together, we will move forward and move closer to One Richmond, an inclusive, compassionate and equitable city for all. “

Have peace in all aspects of life

Commonwealth of Richmond lawyer Colette W. McEachin

“My wish for the city of Richmond in 2022, and every year, is peace.

Peace in the minds of each person, so that you can face the challenges and traumas that life brings to all of us and respond in a healthy and productive way.

Peace in every person’s heart — so that when you are hurt, depressed, or angry, you know there are people and resources available to help you cope with that emotional pain.

Peace in every home, so that children are brought up by people who love and protect them and who also model appropriate and positive behavior for them.

Peace in our schools – so that students, faculty and staff can recognize and respond to all the educational and development challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and continue to support and educate the future workforce and Richmond leaders in a safe environment.

Peace in the workplace – so that as colleagues, clients or clients, we do our best to be patient, thoughtful and understanding of those with whom we come in contact.

Peace in every neighborhood, so that children can walk safely to school and play in their neighborhood without fear of fights or gunfire.

Peace in every gathering of young people and adults, so that the dangerous emotions of fear, jealousy, revenge, rage and retaliation can be dealt with and resolved without resorting to violence.

Finally, it is said that there can be no peace without justice. The Richmond Commonwealth Prosecutor’s Office will continue to protect victims and witnesses; recommend alternatives to sentencing or incarceration, where appropriate; and to prosecute in a fair and equitable manner at all times.

May you all have a healthy, prosperous and peaceful New Year! “

Improving Virginia for people of color

Robert N. Barnette Jr., President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP

“Injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King Jr.

My main wish is to improve the Commonwealth for black Virginians and people of color in 2022.

The well-being of black Virginians should be a concern not only of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, but of all elected officials and all Virginians.

The Virginia NAACP and our units have worked collectively to tackle a variety of issues such as the continued impact of COVID-19, the fight to remove racist statutes, empower elected officials, and mobilize voters through engagement. civic.

Our work speaks for itself. In 2021, not only did we register 2,306 new voters, but we also recruited over 16,000 very committed volunteers from across the country for our indirect voter participation program, providing them with training and lists to contact more than 300,000. infrequently registered black voters in Virginia. . Once the lists were sent, over 100 students from our NAACP Youth and College division reached out to volunteers to offer their support and encouragement.

We have also sent approximately 1 million text messages and 500,000 emails, made over 100,000 live phone calls, and broadcast radio commercials statewide. The Virginia NAACP coordinated our 110 branches, youth councils and college chapters in our largest off-year voter engagement campaign in 30 years, raising and spending over $ 2.5 million, resulting in a Historic turnout for black voters in 2021.

We have made it our mission to ensure justice and to hold account within the Commonwealth while moving the needle to raise awareness of injustices at state and local levels. It goes without saying that a multigenerational movement is vital to achieve optimal success.

While we have made progress, there is still work to be done. We encourage you to join us in taking a stand and joining the equality movement.

Join us on “

Focus on solving education problems

Katina Harris, President of the Richmond Education Association

“I appreciate the opportunity to express some of our desires and intentions regarding the direction in which the Richmond Education Association, as an organization, will be headed in 2022.

Now that we have secured the opportunity to enter into collective bargaining with Richmond Public Schools, we will focus on addressing the issues that have plagued educators, education support professionals and students for years. The way we plan to resolve these issues is to secure initial contracts for RPS employees.

An additional goal of REA is to assist and collaborate with RPS in regards to employee retention and student growth – socially, emotionally, and academically. We have a strong desire for our academics to be competitive nationally and believe we can achieve this by focusing on the above areas.

Recently, the REA has drawn attention to ongoing and potential evictions of Richmond residents. These actions will have a negative impact on our students both directly and indirectly. We know we have limited capacity to prevent evictions, but we are ready to support all efforts to prevent and / or postpone evictions during the winter months and during the global pandemic.

In conclusion, the REA plans to advocate for full funding of the state’s education department’s quality standards and to hold the administration of Governor-elect Glenn A. Youngkin to some of his campaign pledges regarding the increase in teachers’ salaries. We will be attending the Virginia Education Association lobby day on January 24 to meet with elected officials.

As we move forward being the light in some very difficult spaces, we must remember a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of selfish destruction. “

Peace and progress. “

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