Richardson did much for Charlottesville
Dr. Tarron Richardson’s interim successor is the fourth person to lead the city since Jan. 1, 2018, almost three years ago. Before that, the City of Charlottesville had only four city managers across 70 years (“Charlottesville receives 8 bids for manager search,” The Daily Progress, Oct. 13).
Little has been said, however, about Dr. Richardson’s accomplishments during his 16-month tenure with the city, May 2019-September 2020. Here are just a few.
While I was on the City Council, I observed Dr. Richardson’s relentless drive to improve fundamental governmental operations and implement council policies in a timely manner.
He introduced best practices to foster accountability and efficiency within city departments, such as modernizing record-keeping and application-review processes and updating the human resources policy manual.
He began a search process for talented people from outside of Charlottesville’s bureaucracy to lead the city’s departments that continues to this day, and he promoted those from within who had fresh ideas to improve city operations.
Policies that make our streets safer for walking, taking the bus and cycling were finally turned into enforceable standards during his tenure, six years after the council adopted a Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares resolution.
Key infrastructure improvement projects identified as safety hazards in the 2016 Streets that Work Plan and debated for decades (such as West Main Street and the Belmont Bridge) secured state funding under his watch and now have construction timelines.
Since January of this year, I’ve been a regular citizen directly benefiting from the fruits of his hard work, managerial know-how and fiscal stewardship, such as the completion of long-standing road and intersection improvements and multi-use trails, the overhaul of the city’s formerly maze-like website, and the successful transition from in-person to all-virtual public meetings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the pandemic and economic downturn, he and his team balanced the budget without resorting to massive layoffs of full-time employees while still investing in affordable housing. Experienced leadership pays off during a crisis.
Dr. Richardson’s efforts were noticed, his services were appreciated and his “can-do” approach to problem-solving will be missed by many.
Kathleen M. Galvin
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