The Michelle Mosby era has officially begun for Richmond City Council.
The nine-member body voted unanimously Monday night to elect the South Side 9th District representative as council president. She is the first African-American woman to serve as the body’s president. The position, which is largely ceremonial, will allow Mosby to conduct meetings and enforce council rules.
In remarks given after a standing ovation, Mosby thanked God and her family, which was in attendance. She also spoke about the historical significance of the moment.
“I’m mindful of the African-American women who have paved the way for me,” Mosby says.
She also spoke of the importance of regionalism and collaboration with the mayor’s administration.
“It’s time to realize our competitors are not Chesterfield and Henrico. They are our partners, and they expect us to lead,” she says.
The Richmond Free Press first reported in early December that Mosby, a political newcomer first elected in 2012, was mulling a run for the leadership position. About a week later, current council president Charles Samuels, 2nd District, announced he would not vie for the position again. He served in the role for two years.
“Yesterday I informed my colleagues on Richmond City Council that I am withdrawing my name for consideration as Richmond City Council president,” Samuels wrote in a December statement. “I have also spoken with Councilwoman Mosby on her expected nomination and installation as council president in January and congratulated her.”
In her first two years on council, Mosby worked to help convicted felons reintegrate into society and sponsored a measure passed by council that eliminated a requirement for city job applicants to reveal prior felony convictions.
She also has drawn criticism for hiring a man who lives with her to serve as her council liaison, a salaried position that pays nearly $60,000 per year. Seen as a political ally of Mayor Dwight Jones, Mosby may prove key in fostering more cooperation between the administration and council.
“Our city has made significant steps forward and experienced tremendous progress over the past six years, to include today’s opening of the first high school built in Richmond in more than 40 years … I look forward to working with the City Council president, vice president and entire council as we continue to move Richmond forward together,” Jones wrote in a statement.
Council members also voted unanimously to elect Chris Hilbert, 3rd District, as the body’s vice president. He will replace longtime Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, 6th District, who has held the role for six years.
“To Ms. Mosby, I pledge my support to you in leading this city forward,” Hilbert says.
Mosby will preside over the first full council meeting of the year next Monday, Jan. 12.