Mayor Wilder and many other local government representatives held a town hall meeting at Armstrong High School on Tuesday night. Public turnout was high, and many citizens had a opportunity to speak.
Police Chief Rodney D. Monroe and a well-spoken man whose name I did not get.
In addition to Mayor Wilder, most or all of the city council and school board were present, as well as Superintendent Dr. Deborah Jewell-Sherman, the Richmond Attorney General and the Commonwealth’s Attorney. I tried but was unable to keep all of the names straight. It really seemed as if the entire city government was there. This was my first time seeing most of these people in real life, and it was confidence building. I’d heard Mayor Wilder speak before, but the revelation was how well prepared everyone else seemed.
A message reiterated by the mayor was that housing, crime, health, and education are all intertwined. He asked at the beginning of the night for specific suggestions on how to approach crime in our neighborhoods.
It was mentioned that the East End of Richmond has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the county. This was described as a measure of poor delivery of city services. It was stated that better services delivery was going to be something that the city would see more of.
Residents of Fulton Hill, Church Hill, Highland Park, Northside and Southside (among others) stood and made their suggestions. There were 2 hours set aside for speakers, and there were more people that wanted to speak than time allowed. There were requests for better lighting, jobs, and attention to quality of life issues like prostitution, litter, and public drunkeness. It was pointed out that there are areas of the city that are the city’s responsability that are chronically litter-strewn. More than one speaker stated that calling the police didn’t always get a response. One eloquent speaker, an elementary school teacher, spoke of the need to provide services to young students that are innocent victims.