I have been a supporter of Richmond Public Schools since joining Council in 2005 and even before when I was a volunteer at Holton Elementary. I believe that “The Richmond Public School system is our best investment in economic development for our city.” Without a trained workforce, we cannot be ready to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. I have supported increases to the school’s annual appropriations from the city every year and will continue to be their advocate for increased funding.
Our teachers must be supported with adequate pay. No one goes into teaching to get rich, but they deserve a career path that respects the work that they do. In my 4 previous elections, I have always received the endorsement of the Richmond Education Association (REA).
Schools districts with high concentrations of students that are eligible for free and reduced lunch programs must be funded at higher per pupil amounts than districts that do not have high poverty rates. It’s just that simple. Students who live in poverty can learn under the right conditions. Carver Elementary is a perfect example. They are one of the highest performing schools in the Commonwealth, but the overwhelming majority of the students live in poverty. I have worked with 3 different members of the School Board during my tenure and am ready to work with anyone to improve our schools.
Crime is a very personal issue for me. Almost 40 years ago, my father was murdered. It is a pain that is with me today and that is why my priority is the safety and well being of every resident of the City of Richmond. When I moved to Richmond in 1994, it was the murder capital of the United States on a per capita basis with 160 murders. When I ran for council in 2004, the rate of homicides had fallen to 95, which still placed us amongst the more dangerous cities in the country. My initial campaign in 2004 contained a plan for the institution of community policing which builds trust between the Police and the community that they are sworn to protect. It has worked to drive our violent crime and homicide rates 60% lower than they were 12 years ago with the rates continuing to fall each year. I sponsored a program to provide down payment and closing cost assistance to any sworn police officer to purchase a primary residence in the city. In each of my 4 elections to City Council, I received the endorsement of the organizations representing the police officers.
Our taxpayers work hard and deserve a government that is working hard for them. With a formal education in finance and over 30 years in banking and real estate finance, I know how to balance budgets and get the most for your tax dollar. When a former Mayor attempted to evict the school board from city hall, I led the investigation that uncovered that over $1,000,000 was wasted on this debacle. I have voted several times to lower the real estate property tax rate from $1.39 to its current $1.20 per $1,000 in value. I oppose any increase in the real estate tax rate regardless of what it is going to fund. “We must keep our fiscal house in order without raising real estate tax rates,” is my line in the sand. I adamantly oppose putting this issue to a referendum, “The taxpayers put us in office to manage the fiscal affairs of the city without passing the buck back to them on real estate tax rates.” I believe that the buck stops with Council and the Mayor.
Chris Hilbert for City Council
Post Office Box 26804
Richmond, VA 23261