Virginia Union University to Host First Mayoral Debate of the Season

September 21, 2020

For Immediate Release

Angela Hayes
Director, Communications

Virginia Union University to Host First Mayoral Debate of the Season

Hear from VA Governor and VUU Alum on the implications of the pandemic and racial justice issues on the upcoming election

Virginia Union University, along with WRIC-ABC 8News, will host the 2020 Richmond Mayoral Candidate debate featuring Virginia’s 66th Governor and VUU alum, L. Douglas Wilder. The first mayoral debate of the season will be virtual, and take place Thursday, September 24, 2020, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST. L. Douglas Wilder will be moderating the event, along with WRIC- ABC 8News television personality Juan Conde. They will be asking the tough questions related to current issues in the city, including police reform, economic development in Richmond, the process of voting amidst a pandemic, and how COVID-19 and racial justice issues will impact elections.

Dr. Hakim J Lucas, President of Virginia Union University, notes that “VUU is proud to host this first event of the season. It is the legacy of the university to facilitate conversations that impact our students’ lives and futures. We hope the conversations will inspire our student body and the Richmond community to pursue social justice causes meaningful to them. We are proud to have L. Douglas Wilder representing our school and honoring our commitment to providing a nurturing and intellectually challenging environment for future VUU leaders.”

"Local elections impact people more so than others. There are growing concerns about education, healthcare, housing, and employment, which are exponentially impacted by Covid-19.,” said Governor Wilder. “The people will have the opportunity to address these issues and many more to determine who will be elected the next mayor of Richmond."

As the 2020 election nears, this debate will provide a free, publicly available opportunity for the residents of Richmond, Virginia, to learn about each candidate and their vision for the city. The public will also have a chance to submit questions and hear discussions led by the moderators. The link to submit questions can be accessed via www.VUU.edu, VUU’s Facebook page @Virginia.Union, and on WRIC-ABC 8News website and social media platforms. The debate will be broadcast live on WRIC-ABC 8News from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The entire two-hour event will stream  virtually on ABC 8News, www.wric.com, 8News’ Facebook page and VUU’s Facebook page.

Confirmed participants for the debate include:

  • Mayor Levar Stoney: Levar M. Stoney was sworn in as Richmond's 80th Mayor on December 31, 2016. He is the youngest mayor ever elected to serve the city. Mayor Stoney was raised in Virginia by his grandmother and his father, a custodian. A product of Virginia public schools was the first in his family to earn a high school diploma. He graduated from James Madison University, before moving to Richmond to begin a career in public service.
  • Alexis Rogers: Alexsis Rodgers is a civic leader, organizer, policy director, and champion for proactive and progressive leadership. She currently is the Virginia state director for Care in Action, the policy and advocacy home for two million women domestic workers, and is the former president of the Virginia Young Democrats. 
  • Justin Griffin: Justin is a small business lawyer with an accounting degree and a minor in economics. He has helped over 500 small businesses in Virginia.
  • Tracy McClean: Tracey McLean is a native of Richmond, a mother, a wife, and a business owner; She has deeply rooted in her community as well as her faith.  Tracey has grown up attending the Richmond Public School system, so she knows firsthand some of the challenges that the school system still faces.
  • Kim Gray: Kim Gray, a native Richmonder, is a committed mother, civic leader, and public servant.  Kim served two Virginia governors, Mark Warner, and Tim Kaine. In 2016 she was elected to Richmond City Council, having previously served two terms on the city’s School Board.
  • Michael Gilbert:  A current professor of economics at VCU, Michael is also the former City Economist, overseeing the General Fund revenue portfolio of $780MM when he was 25.

Full bios for candidates can be found by clicking here.

The event is open to the public via Livestream. Onsite press access is restricted. Reporters wishing to cover the event are asked to do so via Livestream.  For questions related to media, please contact ahayes@vuu.edu.

About Virginia Union University

Virginia Union University is a premier liberal arts urban institution of higher education and center of excellence for the preparation of students and the development of leaders for tomorrow’s world. It was founded in 1865 to give newly emancipated slaves an opportunity for education and advancement. Virginia Union University offers a broad range of educational opportunities that advance liberal arts education, teaching, research, science, technology, continuing education, civic engagement, and international experiences. Visit https://www.vuu.edu/ for more information.

About Lawrence Douglas Wilder

 is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 66th Governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994. He was the first African American to serve as governor of a U.S. state since Reconstruction, and the first elected African-American governor. Born in Richmond, Virginia, Wilder graduated from Virginia Union University and served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He established a legal practice in Richmond after graduating from the Howard University School of Law. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilder won election to the Virginia Senate in 1969. He remained in that chamber until 1986, when he took office as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, becoming the first African American to hold statewide office in Virginia. In the 1989 Virginia gubernatorial election, Wilder narrowly defeated Republican Marshall Coleman. Wilder returned to elective office in 2005 when he became the first directly-elected Mayor of Richmond. After leaving office in 2009, he worked as an adjunct professor and founded the United States National Slavery Museum.

About Juan Conde

Juan Conde, News Anchor for 8News, began his career in Richmond in 1989 at Power 92FM, co-hosting a popular morning radio show. He joined 8News in 1999 and currently anchors weekday broadcasts at 5, 5:30, 6, and 11 PM. He’s covered  Y2K, the Broad Street fire, the massacre at Virginia Tech, and state and local elections. He’s produced live reporting from Presidential and Gubernatorial inaugurations, Grand Illumination celebrations, and the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. Juan is a fixture in the area, engaging children and teens in appearances at local schools, and adults at events for local non-profits. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Juan was raised in Alexandria, Virginia, and attended The College of William and Mary and VCU.