8 practical consequences of Joe Morrisssey getting elected

Ignoring recent allegations, scandals, and controversies…

Editor’s note: This morning, Thad Williamson posted a series of practical consequences to Joe Morrissey getting elected. They’re reposted below with his permission. Below that you’ll find his intro post that gives things some context.

Practical consequence of Joe Morrissey getting elected #1

Many competent administrators and employees who are assets to the City of Richmond will seek alternate employment as soon as possible.

Practical consequence of Joe Morrissey getting elected #2

The new administration will find few talented applicants to fill the positions of those rushing to depart, or existing key vacancies. Quality professionals committed to public service do not want to work for a boss with a terrible track record of staying out of trouble.

Practical consequence of Joe Morrissey getting elected #3

Consequently city government will be staffed not by improving but by declining talent and competence. Services will suffer hurting residents including many of Joe’s voters.

Practical consequence of Joe Morrissey getting elected #4

Nonprofit, philanthropic, university, and business leaders who now are more interested in and willing to work with the City of Richmond, on not only shared projects but collective impact goals such as poverty reduction, will revert to the historic pattern of shunning the City.

Practical consequence of Joe Morrissey getting elected #5

That lack of collaboration in turn will severely damage the City’s hopes of obtaining additional funding via competitive grants from the federal government, as well as grants from the state government and national philanthropic community. These investors have plenty of choices and will not invest in actual or perceived chaos.

Practical consequence of Joe Morrissey getting elected #6

The City of Richmond will face even greater hostility in making requests from the General Assembly—whether the topic is education funding, transportation, or legislative changes to improve how city government works.

Practical consequence of Joe Morrissey getting elected #7

Without internal collaboration and support from external funding as well as political support from the state, the City has no hope of addressing its fundamental challenges in affordable housing, transportation, educational facilities, and, in general, poverty.

Practical consequence of Joe Morrissey getting elected #8

Finally, Richmond will garner the wrong kind of media attention, attention that will severely harm the city’s reputation and put a damper on recent positive population growth. Residents who have choices are willing to come to a great city that has problems but also a lot of civic energy to solve those problems. They are much less willing to choose to live in a city in which public business gets subsumed to the drama and problems of a single person.

Richmonders need a functional government staffed by outstanding people, not a circus of constant political turmoil. Electing Joe Morrissey will take Richmond straight back to the chaotic days of the 1990s—to no one’s benefit except his own.


[Above are] a series of observations on the practical consequences for the functioning of city government of Joe Morrissey becoming Mayor of the City of Richmond. These are intended to be widely shared. But I wanted to take a moment first to clarify the intent:

  1. I have little interest in discussing the specifics of recent allegations, or the many prior controversies involving Joe. The overall pattern, however, is clearly relevant to fitness to serve and likely consequences for Richmond residents of his being elected.
  2. I have even less interest in or tolerance for criticizing Morrissey’s supporters or making crude generalizations about why he is a formidable candidate. I live in the 5th District. Supporters of Joe are literally our friends and neighbors. My assumption (and experience) is many have a clear reason for supporting his candidacy, two prominent ones being the belief and experience that Richmond politics has not worked to their benefit for a long, long time and unlike many political leaders, Joe has made a concerted effort to develop relationships with people in the community.
  3. Local politics at its best is an honest conversation among friends and neighbors about how to move forward on difficult issues. I am in general not comfortable talking with others about someone else’s scandals or personal issues. I am comfortable talking about practical civic consequences in the spirit of “Hey, did you think about this?” That’s the spirit this series of observations is offered in.
  4. The purpose of these observations is not to make the case for a particular candidate, though I will come back to that question at the end (practically everyone reading this already knows my view). But I do think that if you are in the position of A) you don’t think Joe should be mayor, and B) you respect the needs and interests of people supporting him equally with the needs of all City residents, you should look for the remaining viable candidate with the greatest demonstrated commitment to the empowerment of the community and to rectifying the deep structural injustices that characterize life in central Virginia.

Author: Thad Williamson

Associate Professor of Leadership Studies, UR; Advocate for community wealth building and property-owning democracy; Tar Heel for life.

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