Ready To Work
Photo courtesy of Charlie Diradour
Sitting in the Starbucks on Robinson St. just steps away from his office, Charlie Diradour recounts his first encounter with the LGBT community.
In the late 1970s, a regular came into his father’s Steward Circle Pharmacy with a friend who had being assaulted in a gay-bashing. Diradour was at the store while his father helped patch-up the injured man. A teenager at the time, his father explained that there were people that would beat someone up for being gay.
“I’m glad I had that opportunity with my father, who in the John Wayne vein of men, said ‘that’s not right.’”
Since then, Diradour has been a friend to the LGBT community, supports marriage equality and serves on the board of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. He says this is the civil rights movement for the 21st century.
“I don’t care if it’s two men, two women, or one man and one woman – if a child is receiving love, that’s family,” he says. ”I don’t care if two people don’t have a child but there’s love – that’s a family. Your sexual orientation should not have anything to do with whether or not you are called a family. I have yet to find out why in this country we do not have an open enough society to have an equal society.”
Now, Diradour is running for the second district seat in Richmond City Council against incumbent Charles Samuels.
Last year, Diradour’s Lions Paw Development purchased the Triangle Book Store wedged on Boulevard and is working with local restauranteurs to turn the former adult shop into a Mexicali-style eatery. Through his company, he has a reputation of reviving real estate and hopes to use his business savvy to help revive a city government he says is broken.
“The city is not being run like a business. [In business] first, you listen, then you speak. You listen intentionally and with respect. Then you speak intentionally and with respect,” he says. ”Now all I see is city council yelling with each other without engaging the executive branch with respect. In the real estate business, you can’t get anything done without treating people with respect.”
After speaking out against the ongoing saga of a new baseball stadium, it got Diradour thinking. ”If I could motivate a number of people to understand the concept that a $77 million bond issuance is not good for their welfare, maybe there’s something more that can be done.”
Diradour says if he wins, he will put his company in management mode to handle day-to-day operations while he tends to council. He’ll use his Robinson Street office as his district headquarters (it’s already in high-gear campaign mode).
He also plans to setup a small office in Carver or Jackson Ward. ”Those folks won’t have to come to me. I will go to them.”
He plans to hold work sessions on Saturdays asking residents to come together to solve problems in the district and beyond.
He also believes the city needs to do a better job supporting first responders including firefighters and the police. He suggests reinstating a step program to increase salaries and opportunities for promotion.
“[They] haven’t had a pay raise in five years – we’re going to lose some good people unless we address that,” he says. ”If they’re taking care of us, we need to take care of them.”
Diradour has a back-to-basics approach to making a positive impact on the local economy. He says the city needs to make its historic areas traffic-ready by correctly paving sidewalks and streets.
“If we make it safe, people will want to come here to eat and come here to shop.”
He also suggests creating more opportunities for the residents of communities like Carver and Jackson Ward. ”We need to lift people up and not bringing people down. They need places to work, they need places to shop,” Diradour says. ”…in historic Jackson Ward, what would you do with the areas between 1st and 4th Streets?”
Inside that coffeeshop and out – folks know Diradour. And he knows his neighbors by name. He’s quick to tell a story of when he’s helped them solve a problem and has made it clear he plans to make city council his full-time job if elected on Nov. 6.
“Our institutions aren’t running how they should work. At the local level, we should be more responsive to those we serve. “
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at email@example.com.
“We joint with Richmond residents and families in celebrating the significance of this important decision.”June 26, 2015
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