He offered the city of Richmond's first formal apology for slavery, had a hand in selecting Monument Avenue for the Arthur Ashe statue, and was called to respond when an outdoor portrait of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was firebombed downtown.
As he got his start in Richmond politics as a councilman and mayor in the 1990s - a time when racial divisions in the city were both real and apparent - Tim Kaine earned a reputation as a bridge-builder.
"He was way ahead of most white leaders, even so-called progressive mayors," said John Moeser, a longtime local political observer and an urbanologist at the University of Richmond Bonner Center for Civic Engagement.
"If there’s one thing that is most important as part of his moral gyroscope, it's racial justice."
Kaine, who would go on to serve as lieutenant governor, governor and a U.S. senator, described getting his start in politics in Richmond during his first appearance Saturday as Hillary Clinton's pick for vice president.
"I started at the local level listening to people, learning about their lives, and trying to find consensus to solve problems," Kaine said, adding that he decided to run for office after he began attending City Council meetings and became frustrated with the division and infighting.
The first reference in the Richmond Times-Dispatch archives to Kaine’s participation in a council meeting came in 1987, when he spoke to advocate for a proposed homeless shelter in Jackson Ward.
The council members were considering a resolution signaling their opposition to the shelter, citing concerns that it would harm the neighborhood’s ongoing attempts at revitalization.
This story was originally published on Dec. 11, 1993, after a settlement had been reached in…
Kaine at the time was serving as the chairman of the board of Freedom House, a homeless service organization that shut down in 2013. He urged the council members to reconsider and said “the community has a responsibility to provide shelter for its poor.”
Council members ignored Kaine. They passed the resolution unanimously and essentially torpedoed the Freedom House plan.
In the following years, Kaine appeared in the news sporadically - primarily related to his work as a civil rights lawyer. But he didn’t show up in the context of local politics again until he announced his 1994 run for City Council in the city’s 2nd District, representing the Fan District and parts of North Side.
Marty Jewell, a former councilman and then head of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, said Kaine was not a well-known figure when he ran, but the group decided to endorse him because they liked his stances on the issues. The crusade, still in existence, then was a major force in local politics.
"I can tell you it was a lot worse than it is now for African-Americans, and we set out to change a number of council members," Jewell said.
This profile of Tim Kaine originally ran Oct. 23, 2005 ahead of his election as governor.
Kaine’s platform in 1994 was not dissimilar from the current local campaigns: He focused primarily on the quality of schools and the failure of the city’s elected officials to address the issues adequately.
He also cited crime and regional cooperation as key and said he wouldn’t rule out consolidating local governments.
As he noted Saturday, he won in what he called the first of several “squeakers” - a 94-vote victory over incumbent Councilman Benjamin P.A. Warthen, who questioned how long Kaine lived in the district and accused him of wanting to pump more city money into the now-defunct 6th Street Marketplace, an ill-fated downtown shopping mall that still is an oft-cited example of poor investments by the city.
Instead, as a councilman, Kaine got local neighborhood watch programs cellphones to make it easier for them to report crimes; studied government efficiency in Richmond compared with other localities; and advocated for the city’s elections to be moved from May to November, to increase turnout.
Kaine's early years were not entirely without turbulence. At one point, he drew ire from homeless advocates with whom he previously worked when he drafted an ordinance to crack down on aggressive panhandling. Kaine ultimately toned down the law but still saw strong opposition.
It was a minor blip, and Viola Baskerville, who was elected to the council alongside Kaine and later went on to serve in the General Assembly and as CEO of the Girl Scouts in Virginia, credited Kaine with "really biting his teeth into government at the local level."
She said the resurgence the city currently is experiencing has its roots in the policies Kaine and his fellow council members began pursuing in the 1990s.
"Those things are starting to come to fruition now," she said. "It was the basic roll-up-your-sleeves and get-things-done approach."
The city manager at the time, Robert Bobb, said Kaine immediately stood out on the council as a steady presence who looked beyond the interests of his own ward in his work.
"He seemed to be the one person among members of City Council at the time who would push a vision for how to make the city of Richmond a better place," Bobb said.
"Although he had a ward constituency, he understood quickly the broader issues that were at stake in making the city a great place.
This story originally ran on July 12, 1987 after murderer Richard Lee Whitley was executed i…
Kaine became mayor in 1998 after his election to a third, two-year term on the council.
At the time, the mayor largely served in a ceremonial role and was elected by council members from among their ranks, though Kaine later would be credited with bringing new levels of authority and power to the position.
Chosen on an 8-1 vote, Kaine was the second white mayor since 1977, when a court order created the current ward system and blacks became a majority on the council.
The lone dissenter, then-Councilman Sa’ad El-Amin, said he opposed Kaine because he believed the city needed an African-American mayor.
Bobb said Kaine's selection by a majority-black council was a testament to his capacity to "to bridge the gap between the African-American community and the larger community and work to develop partnerships not only among races but a vision for the city. ... I think the honor that one gets (for that) is being elected mayor from among members of the City Council."
In a speech accepting the role, Kaine lamented the chasm between the city's haves and have-nots, who he said languish in unsafe neighborhoods and crumbling schools.
"Can we really say we believe in equality when that is happening so close to us?" he asked.
Kaine led the city through a number of local controversies surrounding race and Confederate imagery. He served as a member of the committee that selected Monument Avenue for the Arthur Ashe statue, a decision meant to expand the street beyond monuments to Confederate leaders that was strongly opposed by Confederate heritage groups.
Several months after he became mayor, a controversial portrait of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee hung downtown on the city’s floodwall was hit with a Molotov cocktail. The portrait was part of a larger display on the city's history.
Kaine called the vandals “punks” and “losers,” and he supported replacing the portrait. "Much of our history is not pleasant," he said. "You can't whitewash it."
Early in his term, he offered an official apology on behalf of the city for slavery. Moeser, the urbanologist at UR, said the action stood out as significant.
"I just remember when he said that, that I was very proud of Richmond," he said. "It should have been said long before Tim, but he did it."
Otherwise, Kaine focused on city schools, where he sent his three children.
Early in his tenure, he asked “people to do one thing to commit to the city ... send your kids to public schools.”
As his term wound down, he cited among his accomplishments the construction of five new schools, along with the city’s growing population, the rehabilitation of Main Street Station, and the expansion of the downtown convention center.
Kaine's seven years at City Hall concluded with a farewell ceremony in September 2001, as he prepared for his ultimately successful run for lieutenant governor.
According to news reports from the time, the council chambers were packed, with onlookers waving signs thanking Kaine for his service to the city and wishing him well going forward.
"I think there was a lot of pride," Moeser said, "because I think that when he was on City Council, I always felt some kind of destiny for Tim Kaine, and I think that others did as well - that he would go well beyond the city."
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Tim Kaine photographed with Nat, his first son, in 1990.
Tim Kaine became mayor in 1998 after winning a third two-year term on Richmond’s City Council.
Richmond Mayor Timothy Kaine listens during a council meeting at City Hall on 11/23/98. He is flanked by Richmond Vice-Mayor Rudy McCollum Jr (left) and Richmond Interim City Manager Connie Bawcum.
Richmond City Council members Tim Kaine and Viola Baskerville check out a water-damaged ceiling at Armstrong High School. The roof at the then-43-year-old building had been patched but never replaced.
Richmond Mayor Timothy Kaine acknowledges members in the audience during his State of the City address at the City Council meeting 1/11/99.
Mayor Timothy Kaine, who resigned from Richmond City Council, Sept. 10, 2001, displays to council a print given to him by his staff as a gift during council meeting.
Newly-elected mayor of Richmond Timothy M. Kaine, addresses the crowd at City Council chambers July 1, 1998 after being sworn in.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine listens to people lined up to speak in opposition to the hiring of Calvin D. Jamison as City Manager during a council meeting at City Hall on 11/23/98.
After City Council colleagues elected him mayor of Richmond, Tim Kaine addressed spectators, family and friends on July 1, 1998, at City Hall.
Lt. Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine (left) and Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner celebrate their victories at the Richmond Marriott Nov. 6, 2001.
Timothy M. Kaine (left) the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, greets his Republican counterpart, Jay Katzen on Oct. 5, 2001, just before their debate at the University of Richmond. Kaine was a former mayor of Richmond and Katzen was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Soichi Aikawa (far right) mayor of Urawa, Japan, Richmond's sister city, Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine and Richmond City Council member Gwen Hedgepeth took turns helping to plant a sweet osmanthus tree at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens at 1800 Lakeside Ave.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, governor Timothy M. Kaine and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, undertake a walkabout on Capitol Square, from the executive mansion to the South portico of the capitol in Richmond on Thursday, May 3, 2007. The walkabout was lined by extraordinary Virginians who have made great contributions to the Commonwealth. The 54 people who won the Royal Walkabout Lottery also lined the queen's path.
Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine reads a book at Cople Elementary School in Westmoreland County on June 7, 2002.
Timothy M. Kaine gives supporters a hug as he walks on stage at the Richmond Marriott to celebrate his victory for lieutenant governor Nov. 6, 2001. His father-in-law, former Gov. Linwood Holton, is on the right.
State Sen. H. Russell Potts, Jr., R-Winchester (right) smiles as Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine talks about the Senate resolution honoring Potts during the floor session of the Virginia Senate at the State Capitol in Richmond, March 1, 2004. Potts, a former athletic administrator, had been named to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
State Sen. Thomas K. Norment, Jr., R-James City (center, back to camera) waits for an answer to a technical question posed to (from left) Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, and Deputy Senate Clerk John Garrett, during a break in the floor session of the Virginia Senate on Feb. 20, 2004, at the state Capitol in Richmond.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine addresses the media following a closed-door session in which the status of Leonidas Young (far right) as a member of city council was discussed in light of his recent legal troubles.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine wipes away a tear while laughing during a roast in his 'honor' at the Jefferson Hotel on Nov. 15, 1999 to raise funds for the Emergency Shelter Inc.
Jelena Matkovic, 19, of Serbia locates her hometown on a map for Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Aug. 2, 2002 at the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School. Kaine spoke to a group of international students participating in Project B.R.I.D.G.E., an intensive 12-day leadership workshop hosted by the Council for America's First Freedom. From left are Davorka Zadro, 18, of Croatia; Matkovic, Stephanie Byers, 17 of Chesterfield County; and Karl Mercer, 15, of Hanover County.
Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine relaxes in his Richmond office Nov. 7, 2001, the morning after winning the race for the state's second-highest office.
Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark (left) speaks with Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine during the Democratic Party of Virginia's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond Feb. 7, 2004.
Mayor Timothy M. Kaine cuts the ribbon during the YMCA's dedication of the new Capital One Outreach Center and The Mary Morton Parsons Wellness Center on March 2, 2000.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine at Richmond City Council meeting on 7/26/99.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine gave his wife, first lady Anne Holton, a kiss after he finished his State of the Commonwealth speech before the joint legislative session in Richmond, Jan. 16, 2006.
Mattaponi Indian Chief Carl Lone Eagle Custalow (left) presents the annual tax tribute from members of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and first lady Anne Holton at the Executive Mansion in Richmond Nov. 22, 2006. The traditional ceremony was held inside the mansion due to the rain. A treaty signed in 1646 calls for the tribes to make an annual offering to the governor, traditionally the day before Thanksgiving, in lieu of paying taxes.
Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine talks with a visitor just before the Richmond City Council meeting on July 9, 2001.
Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine greets the crowd after his victory on Nov. 8, 2005.
On board the back of a fire department vehicle, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine tours the flooded downtown area of Franklin, Va. with a truck load of members of the media on Oct. 10, 2006.
Stanley Lowe, vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservaton (left) talked with Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine (right) before addressing a gathering at the Black History Museum in the Jackson Ward section of Richmond, June 25, 2001, where he announced that the Historic Jackson Ward Landmark District had been named one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the country.
Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine received a salute from Virginia state troopers as he arrived at the old Capitol in Williamsburg to be sworn in as governor.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine waves along the route of the Ukrop's Christmas parade.
Barbara Miller, of Richmond, takes first lady Anne Holton's driver's license at the Main Street Station polling station around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning as her husband, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, waits his turn.
Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine cycles spent cartridges out of his gun after a round of skeet shooting before a news conference Aug. 26, 2005, in Hardy, Va. Kaine stressed his outdoors lifestyle and support for the 2nd Amendment.
Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the Democratic nominee for governor, watches returns on the internet on Nov. 8, 2005 in Richmond.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine delivers his first State of the Commonwealth speech Jan. 16, 2006. At rear left is House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, and rear right is Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.
Gov. Mark R. Warner (right, front) and Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (second from left) raft through the Hollywood Rapids of the James River to promote Virginia tourism. Warner's daughter, Gillian, is seated next to him.
Governor Timothy M. Kaine and his wife Anne Holton leave a ceremony held in remembrance of the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The governor was joined by other elected officials, the Virginia National Guard Color Guard, first responders and other public safety officials.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and first lady Anne Holton watch President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address inside the Executive Mansion in Richmond, on Jan. 31, 2006.
Virginia Lt. Gov. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine speaks at the Labor Day Parade Monday, Sept. 6, 2004, in Buena Vista, Va.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine speaks during an informal press conference in the lobby of the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, VA Friday, Feb. 2, 2007.
Virginia Governor-elect Tim Kaine reacts to applause from the Richmond Renaissance at the organization's annual meeting at the Jefferson Hotel. Kaine addressed the group.
Tim Kaine speaks during the gubernatorial debate against Jerry Kilgore at the Hilton McLean in Tysons Corner on Tuesday, September 13, 2005.
Gov. Tim Kaine, visiting Richmond International Raceway for the Crown Royal 400, chatted with fans in the infield. Here, he poses for a picture with Sunsiri Martin of Sandston.
Philip Vasquez, head of the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia, holds up a paper signed, in Spanish, by Virginia Governor-elect Tim Kaine, after he met the media and announced his transition team during a news conference in Richmond, VA Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005.
Gov. Tim Kaine delivers the keynote speech at the 2006 Winter Commencement Convocation at Virginia State University in Petersburg Saturday. (Lisa Billings/For the Times-Dispatch)
Lt. Governor Timothy Kaine, during an interview with reporter Frank Green on 1/9/04.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine takes aim while shooting skeet in Hardy, Va., before a news conference Friday, Aug. 26, 2005. Kaine stressed his outdoors lifestyle and support for the 2nd Amendment.
Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell (left) listens as Gov. Tim Kaine discusses his action on firearms background checks during a press conference at the Patrick Henry Building at Capitol Square in Richmond.
Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner, left, receives a standing ovation from cabinet members and Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, right, as he enters the committee room of the General Assembly Building in Richmond to present his budget proposals to the joint House and Senate money committees Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2003.
Gov. Tim Kaine is greeted by his wife, Anne Holton, as he arrives to deliver his first State of the Commonwealth speech on Monday 1/16/06.
Tim Kaine briefly donned a Krispy Kreme hat to show his affection for the shop at 4910 W. Broad St., which was holding an auction of some Krispy Kreme memorabilia for charity. The shop is actually across the city line in Henrico, and Kaine joked about attempts by the city to annex the donut shop.
Gov.-elect Tim Kaine (left) and Gov. Mark Warner share a smile as they meet with reporters outside the Executive Mansion on Friday, Nov. 11, 2005.
Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine during an interview July 7, 1998.
Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine chaired a City Council meeting at Richmond city hall on July 26, 1999.
Virginia Lt. Governor Tim Kaine speaks at a news conference Tuesday morning, May 31, 2005, on the steps of the Bristol, Va., courthouse. Kaine, a Democrat who is running for the governor's seat, outlined his economic plan for Southwest Virginia.
Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, right, tries to get the attention of a Senator after the vote to over ride his ruling against a request that would have stripped Sen. H. Russell Potts, Jr., R-Winchester, left, of committee assignments and chairmanship during the floor session of the Virginia Senate at the State Capitol in Richmond, VA, Wednesday, April 6, 2005. Some members of the Senate Republicans are trying to oust Potts after he declared he is running for Governor as an independent.
Democratic Tim Kaine, left, shakes hands with Republican Jerry Kilgore, right, as Dr. Larry Sabato, center, watches after the last in a series of Kaine-Kilgore gubernatorial debates in Richmond on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2005.
Former Virginia Governor and current Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, left, announced in Richmond his endorsement Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005 for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, right, during a news conference in a city park overlooking the skyline.
Gov. Tim Kaine awaits his turn to speak at the Virginia21 Leadership luncheon. At the table with him is Catherine Tobin, left, of the University of Virginia; and Greg Paulsen of James Madison University.
Gov. Tim Kaine and first lady Anne Holton arrive at the Main Street Station polling station around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning to cast their votes. They are greeted by an energetic Amber Smith, who was there representing her mother Chandra Smith, a 6th district candidate for the Richmond School Board.
Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, center, received the backing of former Virginia Governor and current Richmond, VA Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, right, during an announcement in Richmond on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005 in a city park overlooking the Richmond skyline.
Gov. Tim Kaine delivers the keynote speech at a luncheon sponsored by Virginia21 Thursday at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
Gov.-elect Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton Kaine embrace on stage during his acceptance speech.