Thank you and goodbye
4/26/2019, 6 a.m.
City Councilman Parker C. Agelasto has done the right thing by announcing he is stepping down from his seat representing the 5th District.
Our only question now is why he is waiting until Nov. 30 to step aside. For the sake of the city and to avoid continued expensive litigation — two reasons Mr. Agelasto proffered in submitting his resignation — we believe Mr. Agelasto should resign from office immediately.
In announcing his resignation Tuesday, Mr. Agelasto wrote a long and petulant letter sent in an email blast to 5th District residents and others in which he clearly clings to the belief that his legal domicile is the Floyd Avenue house in the 5th District he left in July and is now renting to others.
He blames City Attorney Allen Jackson for giving him poor legal advice about whether buying a house and moving his family to the city’s 1st District would impact his ability to remain in office.
He takes swipes at former City Councilmen Henry W. “Chuck” Richardson and Sa’ad El-Amin, who have mounted legal challenges to Mr. Agelasto remaining in office.
Mr. Agelasto also throws shade on Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring, whose involvement essentially forced Mr. Agelasto to resign, as well as on some of his City Council colleagues who he said “could easily continue to make decisions on behalf of their constituents while renting houses in a particular district and living outside of that district, or even outside of the municipality that they represent” if the “vagaries of state and municipal law regarding domiciliary intent are not addressed.”
Mr. Agelasto has done a lot of good for the 5th District and for the city as a whole during his six years on City Council. But Mr. Agelasto fails to understand the history of how and why Richmond went to a nine-district system of representation after extensive legal battles in the 1970s.
And he is blind to how his belief that he can continue to represent the 5th District without living there is sowing the seeds for reverting to the old ways of at-large representation, when City Council was controlled by a few people who all lived in one or two districts.
At the time, those few wealthy white men had little understanding of, or consideration for, the vast numbers of Richmond residents who didn’t live in their neighborhoods — the majority of whom were African-American.
A huge measure of Mr. Agelasto’s success as a member of City Council can be attributed to his living within the 5th District, getting to know the residents and concerns of people within the district and helping to address those issues through action, intervention and changes in policy, practices and law.
Mr. Agelasto has taken his job on council seriously and worked hard for the people in the district. He typically is thoughtful and well reasoned when it comes to his council business, so we have difficulty understanding why he hasn’t recognized before that now is the time to let go and let someone who actually lives in the district represent it.
We hate to see him sully his reputation and his record on council by failing to correct this blind spot. If Mr. Agelasto wants to remain on City Council — and it is clear he does in the way he is dragging his feet about leaving — then the easy solution is for him to find a larger home within the 5th District and really live there.
Until that happens, we thank Mr. Agelasto for his service, wish him the best and ask him to step down immediately so the people of the 5th District and the city can move on.