Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney answers a question about the possibility of his reelection to the position during a news conference in Richmond, VA on November 4th, 2020

Incumbent Levar Stoney claimed an outright victory in Richmond’s mayoral race, securing four more years in the top post at City Hall.

With about 105,000 votes counted, the returns show Stoney won six of the city’s nine voter districts, according to unofficial results released Wednesday evening. The win means Stoney will avoid a runoff with one of his challengers.

“It’s been a long, challenging year. ... To get another four years to complete the work, as I’ve stated in the past, it’s the greatest honor of my life,” Stoney said in his first public remarks since polls closed Tuesday night.

The comments came at his weekly COVID-19 briefing at City Hall, where he was back at work Wednesday. The Richmond General Registrar’s Office had not yet publicly released its unofficial tally at the time, but did so a few hours later.

Jim Nachman, chairman of the Richmond Electoral Board, confirmed results showing Stoney had won.

“Unofficially, I think we already know,” he said of the contest Wednesday afternoon.

About 32,000 votes counted by the end of the day Tuesday showed Stoney leading Virginia Care in Action Director Alexsis E. Rodgers and 2nd District Councilwoman Kimberly B. “Kim” Gray.

Stoney’s lead solidified early Wednesday, as returns from roughly 70,000 early votes were reported on the Virginia Department of Elections website. Local officials were finalizing the district-by-district tally throughout the day, key to determining how the votes would affect the outcome in the city’s mini-electoral college system.

Although a majority of city voters did not support Stoney’s re-election bid, he secured victory handily.

Stoney received 38% of the vote citywide, winning the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th districts. Those have historically been African American strongholds, except for the 4th District. Early voting lifted Stoney there, and shored up his margins around the city.

“It just shows that we’ve tried our best to build a broad-based coalition from all across the city in multiple districts, from the East End to South Side to North Side and parts of the West End as well,” he said Wednesday afternoon.

Rodgers won in the 2nd District, home to Virginia Commonwealth University and a large concentration of young voters who buoyed her campaign. That pickup doubled as a blow to Gray, who has represented the district on the School Board or City Council since 2009.

Results showed Rodgers also led Stoney by fewer than 100 votes in the 5th District, where she lives, and which he won in 2016. She received about 26.4% of the vote citywide, slightly ahead of Gray.

With an unknown number of votes still uncounted, Rodgers issued a statement Wednesday evening that did not concede the race.

“Waiting is hard, but our democracy is worth it. Richmonders deserve the confidence that every vote is counted in the mayor’s race. We have many outstanding votes and will await for the official results to be announced. While votes are still being counted, one thing is clear — Richmond is hungry for change,” Rodgers said in the statement.

Rodgers’ closest margin in a district where she trails is the East End 7th District, where Stoney leads by about 900 votes. Erasing that gap would still leave Stoney in command in five districts — enough for an outright win.

Gray won the West End 1st District, the results show, but she sputtered in her home district and failed to build enough support to erase Stoney’s advantage south of the James River. She received 26% of the vote citywide.

“It has been the honor of my life to serve on City Council for four years and the School Board for eight years,” Gray said in a text message. “I deeply appreciate the sacrifices of my family and my supporters during my mayoral campaign. All of us remain committed as citizens to making Richmond the fair, honest and inclusive city it needs to be.”

Local and state officials must certify the results. That is expected to take place in the coming days.

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