Richmond City Commission candidate Bobby Johns is no stranger to the race. This election season marks his second time running for a seat on the four-member commission.
Annual pay increases for city employees and promotions based on performance are just two of the issues Johns said he would support if elected.
Johns is outspoken in his criticism of the city commission’s rezoning of property at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road so a private builder could construct a student housing complex.
He also is critical of changes in fire protection service and city personnel policy.
“One of the first things I wouldn’t have done is to rezone the (John) Lackey property,” he said. “Secondly, I would not have closed Fire Station No. 5. I also wouldn’t have taken away the vacation from the city workers.”
Many cuts were made to city departments to compensate for the city’s growing debt, which has now turned into a $3 million surplus this past year.
“I would be in favor of restoring some funding if the need is there,” Johns said. “I know the playgrounds are in need of mulch and the basketball court at Lake Reba needs to be resurfaced.”
He is speaking about things taken care of by the city’s parks and recreation department, which received one of the biggest funding cut of all city departments in the 2012-13 budget.
“We don’t have enough firefighters,” he said. “I also would recommend that we re-open Station No. 5 on Duncannon Lane. I also understand that some of our firefighters are occupying different ranks instead of promoting to that position. If they are performing duties at a higher rank, then they should be paid for that rank.”
The city should aggressively seek grant funding to perform a mandated upgrade to its storm-water system, he said.
“We need to try to apply for grants from both the state and federal governments,” he said. “I would hope that we could use the $2.10 meter tax to help pay for these projects. We are going to need $1 million for the next 20 years. I would be in favor of selling bonds to cover these projects if we can’t get enough grant funding.”
A proposed “Fairness Ordinance” that would include protection of members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations also has generated controversy this year.
“There is a federal law which protects everyone from discrimination,” Johns said. “You just can’t terminate an employee without proper cause or because of their sexual preference.”
Richmond City Commission candidates
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