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The Case for Jon Baliles (by Chad Ingold)

by Chad Ingold, teacher at Open High and former mayoral candidate

I am no politician, I’m not into politics and I generally believe political factions (parties) have not served the people but rather continue to serve an ever changing political ideology designed to benefit few at the expense of many. The mayoral election now offers us candidates that seem to represent the same interests and/or failed ideologies of the past. We even have a real live “criminal” to round out the selection.

In the midst of all of this it may seem difficult to choose a person of quality and character. But please Richmond, do not give up hope. We don’t have to settle for less. We don’t need to settle with a candidate that glitters but is hardly gold. Jon Baliles is a candidate that is a cut above, and apart, from the mess that much of this election cycle has offered.

He has offered clear plans to meet the funding needs of Richmond Public Schools in order to present a clear and strong vision for the future of the schools. Jon has also offered solutions and strategies to deal with other issues in the city as well. (I.e. vacant, decrepit buildings, the negative effects of “gentrification”, and even grass and potholes). Jon has laid out clear plans on his website and I ask you to read for yourself. Jon Baliles is a person who is, not only willing to listen, he is a person who integrates what he hears into a vision for RVA that includes all its citizens.

I’m not used to being in a position where my opinion on a mayoral election may be important. I have no interest in polls when I am deciding who to vote for. “Politics are funky,” a student just said to me. They certainly are. I haven’t scoured the results of the polls to come out about the mayoral election, I have paid little attention to the “big-name” endorsements or publicity stunts that have tried to consume our attention. I keep my own council when deciding who to vote for.

I have three young children at home, and beyond social media, I find little time to involve myself in the “politics” of this election. I find it contrived and rather tasteless. All the more so during this current election cycle. I am looking for leadership, not politics. I am looking for practical ideas, not politicians selling the ideal.

As I have looked over what the candidates have written and listened to what they have said, only a couple have emerged as candidates that offer a plan, as well as a vision, for for the City Richmond. Jon Baliles is the only candidate that is talking about what he has done for Richmond, what he is doing for Richmond, and what he will do for Richmond.

Most of all, Jon has been dependable, time and time again, as a strong proponent for Richmond Public Schools. Jon has offered a strong funding plan that was quickly co-opted by the others.

The main criticism I have heard about the current mayoral election is that candidates have offered little in terms of actual policy. The most popular sentiment among mayoral candidates seems to be “I definitely won’t be like the last guy!” Many of the candidates give me several reasons to be wary of that promise.

Baliles has continually, and consistently, laid out policy driven plans to address the myriad of issues which RVA must contend. This is the reason why a majority of the candidates continue to choose Jon Baliles as the person they would most like to work with. When the opinions of a large consensus of mayoral candidates consolidate around one person then that should be indicative to most that Jon Baliles is just the person to lead this City.

Now, people are looking to the “polls” to gain some sort of guidance as to who is a safe bet for their vote. Is that how we do it now? Who votes according to polls anyway? It’s not a horserace, its our government. It’s not a vote for popularity or a casino game. It’s not a hashtag or a social media comment. It’s a process that is meant to assure the prevention of the abuse of power by those who would seek to rule our government through force and guile.

Let’s vote for the candidate that we want to, based on the qualifications that we think are important to the job. I believe that candidate to be Jon Baliles.


Photo via Jon Baliles for Mayor

A few weeks ago I published A case for Joe Morrissey. Not an endorsement, it was for me a way of sharing what struck me as an important understanding of his candidacy. After that published, I reached out to others for words on other candidates. Thad Williamson wrote a piece in favor of Levar Stoney. The above is Chad Ingold’s response in support of Jon Baliles.


BAF 10/19/2016 at 10:20 AM

“Jon has laid out clear plans on his website and I ask you to read for yourself.”

The “Priorities” page is short and is basically political boilerplate rather than meaningful, detailed and actionable policy. There are two links to longer briefs on schools and taxes, but they are cunningly hidden in captions under some mundane embedded videos. It is as if only those who endure the videos AND have very sharp eyes will have completed the quest and earned the right to share in the treasure that is the Baliles policy briefs.

Going into the campaign, I had some hopes that Baliles would be a serious contender. His willingness to stand up to Jones on Council was a positive. But the campaign he has run is invisible. While fundraising and advertising should not be the be all in politics, his inability to generate enough support to run even the semblance of a visible campaign speaks volumes about his ability to organize, mobilize and motivate–something that is critical if the next Mayor is going to have any hope of keeping the place from falling apart further. If you do not have the wherewithal to run even a marginally-credible campaign for the job, you probably do not have the wherewithal to do the management and reforming necessary that comes with the job. The campaign is the hiring process for the job. Baliles so far has barely shown the ability to get his resume noticed by HR.

Nate Peterson 10/19/2016 at 3:03 PM

How about this? He’s the only candidate who’s not a convicted pedophile, didn’t advocate making up fake quotes to attribute to local black leaders to expedite construction of the Shockoe Stadium and not sponsored by any and everybody in the Democratic Party.

ray 10/19/2016 at 4:04 PM

Baliles is definitely the progressive candidate for the “new Richmond.” For years, he’s been on the cutting edge of the city arts scene, has stood up for the LGBTQ community, and has been a strong voice for the environment and James River even before he got elected to Council. And, let’s not forgot the fact he led the successful fight against Dwight Jones and his Shockoe Stadium plan. Baliles believes in transparency and citizen input and will fight against the “behind closed doors, backroom deals” way of doing things that epitomizes the “old Richmond” way of doing things.

Elaine Odell 10/19/2016 at 5:00 PM

Jon Baliles has my vote!

@ 3, go to

W Gee 10/19/2016 at 10:01 PM

I love Baliles, mostly for standing firm against Jones and Berry so many times, but also for being a progressive. But he doesn’t have any African American votes. Every vote for Baliles inches Berry and Morrissey forward. Stoney is the same politically, and has a good chance to win.

Cog 10/20/2016 at 10:18 AM

A vote for Baliles is a vote for Morrissey. Not only that, Baliles will probably work in a Morrissey administration. Watch and see.

You think you are #nevermorrissey with Jon? You are #morrissey4eva with Jon.

The Democracy You Deserve 10/20/2016 at 11:23 AM

Nate P. beat me to the punch. John is a low-energy politician, which is a blessing and a curse. He doesn’t garner support as a result, but it’s because he’s not predisposed to BS and hyperbole.

He isn’t beholden to corporate/business interest (Berry); he’s not a creeper with a violent past that managed to skirt felony convictions because he’s a skilled lawyer (Fightin’ Joe), and he’s not a sleazy political operative riding the Gov’s coattails and raising obscene money from the patronage he handed out, while also not being transparent in his involvement in the latest stadium backroom dealings (claiming to bring the parties together while the counties all reveal they’ve been left in the dark like in the past), while looking at this as a stepping stone to higher office (Stoney).

John has worked as a city staff-level employee as well as serving on council, so he knows the dysfunction and systemic issues. He has integrity, is truly committed to making the city better, and isn’t using this as a stepping stone. He’s not a good politician, but he is a good candidate. If only more people understood that.

Paul S 10/20/2016 at 4:23 PM

@10 – I’m still not completely decided other than #nevermorrisey. But I don’t necessarily understand the knock against Stoney that he may or may not be looking at this as a stepping stone to a higher office. For example Cory Booker made great improvements to Newark. Sure he is a Senator now and may one day run for president but he didn’t short change Newark at all. Newark is better for having had Cory as their mayor for 7+ years. It remains to be seen if Levar is cut from the same cloth but I’m certainly not going to pre-emptively dismiss him because he has a whole career ahead of him…

ray 10/20/2016 at 5:53 PM

Cory Booker served on Newark City Council before being elected to Mayor.

More bio info on Booker from Wikipedia:

Booker went on to Stanford University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1991 and a Master of Arts in sociology the following year. While at Stanford, he played football as a tight end and was teammates with Brad Muster and Ed McCaffrey,[8] and also made the All–Pacific-10 Academic team and was elected senior class president.[9][10] In addition, Booker ran The Bridge Peer Counseling Center, a student-run crisis hotline, and organized help from Stanford students for youth in East Palo Alto, California.[11]

After Stanford, Booker was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford, where he earned an honors degree in United States history in 1994 as a member of The Queen’s College.[10] He earned his Juris Doctor in 1997 from Yale Law School, where he operated free legal clinics for low-income residents of New Haven, Connecticut. At Yale, Booker was a founding member of the Chai Society (now the Eliezer Society),[12] was a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and was active in the National Black Law Students Association.[13]


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