Richmond City Council 2017
Members of the new Richmond City Council were sworn in Monday at City Hall. From left: Andreas Addison (1st District), Kimberly Gray (2nd District), Chris Hilbert (3rd District), Kristen Larson (4th District), Parker Agelasto (5th District), Ellen Robertson (6th District), Cynthia Newbille (7th District), Reva Trammell (8th District) and Michael Jones (9th District). (Photo by Mark Robinson)
The Richmond City Council and School Board swore in a fresh crop of representatives and elected new leadership on Monday at City Hall.
Chris Hilbert, the longtime North Side 3rd District representative, was chosen to lead the city’s legislative body. He previously served as vice chairman from January 2015 through the end of 2016 alongside the former council president, Michelle Mosby.
“Whether you were born here or not, most of us now call Richmond our home,” Hilbert said in prepared remarks. “Working together, we can make it a better place for all of our citizens.”
Reports had named Hilbert as the likely choice heading into the meeting, but Monday’s official vote brought unexpected drama. While eight members voted for Hilbert, a ninth — 5th District representative Parker Agelasto — abstained.
As council president, Hilbert designated which of the six standing committees fellow council members would serve on for the remainder of Hilbert's term as president, which lasts two years. Agelasto, now a second-term councilman, was named to three committees — finance and economic development, governmental operations, and organizational development — but will not preside as chair over any of them. He had previously been vice chair of the finance committee. The other four incumbents who were reelected to council will each chair at least one committee.
After the vote, Agelasto provided a written statement to reporters accusing Hilbert of punishing him for bringing a “new way of doing things” to council during his first term.
“Mr. Hilbert’s decision not to appoint me to leadership positions on any council committees, and strip me of any leadership position I previously held, is, therefore not surprising; it is disappointing, nonetheless,” the statement read.
When asked about the letter, Agelasto declined to elaborate further.
Hilbert said he disagreed with Agelasto’s stance, adding that he made his final decision with input from “other council members, including Mr. Agelasto.”
“I don’t share his reasoning with why it happened, I really don’t, so I’ll just leave it at that,” Hilbert said.
Joining Hilbert on the dais will be Cynthia Newbille, who has represented the East End 7th District since 2009. After her colleagues unanimously voted her vice president of the body, Newbille stressed the importance of working collaboratively with the new mayor’s administration, the new School Board and the Richmond Public Schools administration.
“While we have had major accomplishments in our city over the last eight years, we have an opportunity and an obligation to work collectively to accomplish even more, to create an even greater RVA … for all Richmonders,” Newbille said.
Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 9.
Richmond School Board 2017
Newly elected members of the Richmond School Board were sworn in on Monday at City Hall. From left: Liz Doerr (1st District), Scott Barlow (2nd District), Jeff Bourne (3rd District), Jonathan Young (4th District), Patrick Sapini (5th District), Dawn Page (8th District), Felicia Cosby (6th District), Nadine Marsh Carter (7th District) and Linda Owen (9th District). (Photo by Mark Robinson)
Up on the 17th floor, the new Richmond School Board selected a duo to lead the nine-person body.
The board unanimously voted Dawn Page as chairwoman. Page, who had served on the board previously but gave up her seat to run for City Council, won the open 8th District seat again in November. She said voters spoke “loud and clear” about their priorities.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Page said. “We have to ensure that every child receives a quality education in the city of Richmond. We have to ensure that we’re seeing outcomes, that our children are reaching their fullest potential.”
Patrick Sapini, the new 5th District representative, said he was excited to work with the new council and Mayor Levar Stoney’s new administration.
“I think we have a really good team and we can surely move the city forward,” Sapini said. “I’m very excited about that.”
The board’s decision left the lone incumbent returning to the board, former chairman Jeff Bourne, on the outs. Bourne’s name has frequently come up in the discussion of potential successors for Del. Jennifer McClellan in the House of Delegates' 71st District, if McClellan wins election to the state Senate next week. However, he has not yet announced his intentions.
At the meeting, Bourne formally nominated Page as his successor. He said he supports the switch.
“One of the things this board has done is gotten together and discussed these things to prepare so we can hit the ground running,” Bourne said. “We had some good discussions and we all rallied around the leadership team.”
The School Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17.