Fifth district voters: The City Council seat currently being held by Marty Jewell is being challenged by two candidates. Here you will find the insights and perspective of candidate Parker Agelasto. Some of the questions are recycled from past interviews and some are from you, the readers. Previously, we featured an interview with candidate Lee Shewmake. And councilman Jewell has not responded to requests for an interview dating back to February. For more info on Parker Agelasto's campaign, see his campaign website here or his Facebook page here.
What do you hope to accomplish on City Council?
I want to work collaboratively with my colleagues and the community to move Richmond forward and make it a better place to live and work. I want to improve our public education system so we have first class, top notch schools from kindergarden through high school and all children have opportunity for success. I want to improve city services so they are delivered efficiently, professionally and in a timely manner. I want to ensure our streets are paved, our sidewalks repaired and our streetlights lit. Our neighborhoods need to be safe and secure. When citizens contact me, they will receive a prompt and thorough response.
How has your professional and community background prepared you for the job of City Councilperson?
I have been active in my community, addressing community issues. My background, with an MBA in business from UVA’s Darden Business School, has prepared me to address the types of intricate and vexing problems that face the City and to implement solutions that optimize positive outcomes for all stakeholders. I have also learned how to work with people to find common solutions.
Which city council persons have inspired you most over the years and why?
Tim Kaine would be my role model and inspiration. He worked tirelessly and doggedly to improve the city he loves. He is someone who worked well with people, who worked at solving problems instead of just talking. He pulled people together.
How will you keep from 'splitting the opposition' with candidate Shewmake and ensuring that Marty Jewell is re-elected?
I am working hard every day to earn votes. I have knocked on over 2,000 doors in neighborhoods across the district and attended dozens of meetings of civic associations. I will continue to work hard each day to demonstrate that I get results for our residents. I have seen and heard the desire for change in all of the neighborhoods and am confident that voter support will continue to build behind my candidacy in order to win in a 3-way race.
Have you had any professional dealings with Justin French? (or any multi-million dollar lawsuits pending?)
No, and no.
What has Jewell done well and not so for our community?
When Mr. Jewell first ran, his willingness to stand up and point out concerns and issues with Council, without regard for consequences, was valuable. At that time, City Council seemed stuck in the doldrums, unwilling to address some serious issues. However, over time, Mr. Jewell continues to simply argue and attack his colleagues on Council and throughout city government. This is not constructive or productive. Mr. Jewell has also become unresponsive to his constituent demands and certain communities feel completely ignored by their elected official. The time has come to work collaboratively to actually resolve issues. Our energies need to be spent making Richmond the best it can be, not simply talk without action.
What are your political party leanings?
I am a lifelong Democrat. This year, even as I work hard for my own election, I have volunteered for Tim Kaine for Virginia and Obama for America, helping them put out yard signs, register voters, and canvas for the president.
From the community:
Randolph Maymont: Why do you think people keep voting for Marty Jewell? And how will you win his supporters’ votes? What’s the biggest problem that the 5th district faces?
I believe the voters of the fifth District want timely communication, real services and real solutions. I decided to get in this race and collec
ted the necessary signatures within 17 hours because the residents of the 5th are eager for representation that addresses their needs. Rhetoric without results and continually antagonizing other elected officials while putting one neighborhood against another has gone on for too long and the citizens know it. They are ready and eager for change and I will deliver that change. Everyday I am out walking in the district, talking to citizens. I am attending events and reaching out in every way to the community. Moreover, at several meetings I have heard about problems and I, personally, have contacted City Hall to resolve them.
Todd Woodson: Oregon Hill has pretty much been ignored or screwed over during the terms of the current 5th District Councilman. Alley repairs, proper zoning for the Oregon Hill Cary St Business Corridor, A lasting and legal non encroachment agreement with VCU, the very important roundabout on Idlewood, parking problems, over reaching greedy developers and many other issues face the next Councilman. Would you work with the neighborhood to make progress on these quality of Life issues? What would your priorities be for our neighborhood and the rest of the 5th (the district not the one that got Jewell thrown in jail)
Yes, I will work with Oregon Hill on its list of priorities. My objective is to ensure that citizens know that when they contact their City Council representative they will get a timely, courteous and helpful reply. I want to ensure that services are delivered and will work with the neighborhoods to address their top priorities. I agree and when elected will lead the initiative for a roundabout at Idlewood to help with Oregon Hill traffic concern. I believe it will have broad support after explaining how it may alleviate some traffic from the Maplewood exit at John B. Cary School and benefit the Maymont, Randolph, and Uptown communities. Also, you can be assured that I will lead the community conversations to address development opportunities in our district so that we have a complete understanding of the project and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood. For the future of our City, we must prioritize public education and economic development so that all citizens are in apposition to obtain a well-paying job and that those jobs are available.
money-watch: Lack of revenue is one of the biggest problems facing the city. What services would you favor cutting, what services would you favor increasing?
You are right about the lack of revenue and that is an area that I would first attempt to grow so we could then have time to consider departmental expenses. That said, we must reassess all city departments and implement efficiencies and eliminate any waste we can. We need to revisit contracts to ensure we are getting the maximum service for the minimum outlay of resources. We need to eliminate any duplications of effort. To accomplish all of these, I would like to see an up and down review of every city department or agency.
flapper: what’s so funny about peace love and understanding?
Peace, love and understanding are good qualities to keep in mind as we address our problems. We don’t have to agree, we just need to be able to work together in a collaborative manner to resolve our issues.
jasonguard: That one should be followed up with a comment on the candidate’s beard. Mr. Agelasto, are you pandering to the hipster contingent with that facial hair? In all seriousness, Randolph, Maymont and Byrd Park are seeing an influx of VCU students taking up residence, either in rental properties or in houses purchased for them by their parents. Loud parties into the wee hours, litter, vandalism, and general unneighborliness seems to result. A small fraction of the students are likely to blame, but what would you purpose be done to address the perennial impact of VCU’s transient students?
The beard was for a small part in a movie about Abraham Lincoln and it has stuck with me ;-). After the election, I hope to have a vote whether to shave it or not and raise some money for charity. As for your more critical question, I plan to work closely with VCU and the neighborhoods to try and improve relations and to make certain that any unlawfulness or inappropriate behavior is curbed. We need to further involve VCU Security in patrolling and managing those areas and Chief Venuti and Officer Felton have taken new action in this area. VCU students are fortunate to be able to live in our appealing residential neighborhoods and they need to behave responsibly. We could also begin working with the property owners and landlords to include a clause in the lease that clearly identifies a standard of conduct that when violated could terminate the lease. Ideally, we would like to an increase in owner occupancy of our houses.