Richmond City Council Elections: A Guide to the Candidates

richmond city council elections

The presidential campaigning has been going on for over a year, and as with any presidential election year, most media focus has been drawn to who will win the White House. Local races are much less glamorous, but when it comes down to it, your city council member could have a much more immediate impact on your life than the president. In Richmond, it is also a mayoral election year, and those candidates are getting plenty of local attention. However, Richmond City Council elections are happening too, as well as school board elections.

The City of Richmond is divided into nine districts, each of which is represented by a city council member who must live in that district. Your council member knows the area and is in a position to bring residents’ concerns to the attention of city government.

This year’s Richmond City Council elections are likely to shake up City Hall considerably. Only five districts have incumbent candidates seeking reelection. Every district has a contested race, and several districts have three, four, or even five candidates to choose from. We’ve put together this guide to the Richmond City Council candidates for each district so you can get to know a little more about them.

1st District

Andreas Addison was born and raised in Virginia and moved to Richmond in 2004. In 2008 he was hired as a management analyst by City Hall and has been working for the City of Richmond in various capacities ever since. He has expressed interest in improving education and city services.

Jonathan Cruise was raised in Virginia and graduated from Virginia Tech. He was involved with volunteering efforts in Arlington before moving to Richmond. He currently works as an information technology project manager. His platform includes improvement of education and government transparency.

Harry Warner served five years of active duty in the Army, attaining the rank of captain. Once he finished his service, he worked in commercial banking for several years before moving into the non-profit sector. He has worked for several non-profit organizations since 1997. He is interested in financial integrity and accountability, sensible economic development, and supporting police and firefighters.

2nd District

Charlie Diradour lives in the Fan with his wife and three daughters. His platform is centered on improving public infrastructure through quality education, core services, and public safety.

Kimberly Gray was born and raised in Richmond and has served on the school board since 2008. She has worked for a number of non-profits during her career. She is interested in improving education and fiscal responsibility.

Rebecca Keel is a native Richmonder with a master’s degree in social work. Her platform includes a focus on public health and government transparency.

3rd District

Chris Hilbert (incumbent) currently serves on the city council and has lived in the third district since 1995. He is currently vice president of the city council and is concerned with crime prevention and fiscal accountability.

Milondra Coleman studied at Mary Baldwin college and is currently a history teacher at John Marshall High School. She has an interest in African-American owned businesses in the Richmond area.

Dorian Daniels is a native of Richmond who has lived in the third district for 16 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia State University. His platform includes supporting public safety workers, improving education, and investing in city parks.

Hassan Fountain is a lifelong Virginia resident and father of seven who studied at Bryant and Stratton College. He has expressed an interest in improving education and preventing crime.

4th District

Timothy Grimes currently serves as aide to councilwoman Kathy Graziano, who will retire from the council at the end of the year. He has worked with the councilwoman since 2012. He says that if elected he will prioritize schools and public safety.

Kristen Larson currently serves on the school board. She grew up in Delaware and moved to Richmond in 2005. She is interested in issues including government accountability, public schools, and nature conservation. 

Larry Olanrewaju has lived in Richmond for 36 years. He currently works as a professor of economics at John Tyler Community College. He serves as chairman of the schoolboard and is a member of the board of directors of City of Richmond Public Library. His platform includes economic development, education, and taxpayer services.

Jeffrey Burke Thomas is a native of Richmond. He holds advanced degrees from Tulane University and Virginia Tech. He has worked as a public school teacher and as an analyst for non-profits. His platform includes a focus on improving education and preserving James River Park. 

Johnny Walker was born and raised in Richmond and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond. He is interested in improving public schools and fiscal responsibility.

5th District

Parker Agelasto (incumbent) was born and raised in Virginia. He graduated from Bates College and currently serves as the executive director of the Capital Region Land Conservancy. He was first elected to the city council in 2012. He is interested in crime prevention and improving education.

Montigue Magruder was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and first moved to Richmond in 1997. He supports transparency in financial matters and increased funding for education. 

Garrett Sawyer is a lifelong resident of Richmond. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and his MPA from Strayer University. His platform includes improving educational infrastructure and fiscal responsibility in city government.

6th District

Ellen Robertson (incumbent) has been a resident of Richmond since 1969 and earned her bachelor’s degree in urban planning from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has served on the city council since 2003 and has been a member and leader of numerous committees. She has worked to decrease poverty and improve education. 

Donald Moss is a longtime Richmond resident and a graduate of the Virginia public school system. His platform is focused on basic infrastructure needs, including schools, roads, and public safety.

7th District

Cynthia Newbille (incumbent) has served on the city council since 2009. She grew up in Richmond and earned her PhD in Public Policy and Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. She has worked to improve education, public safety, and economic development during her time in office.

Joshua Williams is a native of Richmond who has served in the Virginia Army National Guard for ten years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has expressed an interest in governmental transparency and improving education.

8th District

Reva Trammell (incumbent) is a native of Richmond. She first served on the city council from 1998 to 2002. She was elected again in 2007 and has served through 2016. She considers economic development and jobs to be priorities for her district.

Amelia Lightner is a retired technology technician and serves as vice president of a labor union. She has expressed an interest in working collaboratively with city officials and public service workers to move Richmond forward.

9th District

Leon Benjamin is a native Richmonder. He graduated from Huguenot High School and attended the University of Virginia and Virginia Union University. He currently serves as senior pastor of New Life Harvest Church. His platform includes improving education and public infrastructure. 

Michael Jones was born and raised in Richmond. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Colorado, Boulder where he also played football. He lived and worked in Colorado and Arizona for several years before returning to Richmond to attend seminary at Virginia Union University. He now serves as pastor of the Village of Faith Church, which he founded. His platform includes improving education, repairing city streets, and ensuring that all city residents have equal access to resources and opportunities.

Germika Pegram was born in West Germany before moving to Richmond as a child. She attended Richmond public schools and graduated from Virginia Union University with a degree in psychology. She has been involved in community organizing efforts for 22 years. She is interested in government transparency, improving education, and public safety.

Marcus Squires graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015 with a degree in Political Science and Government. His platform includes reducing poverty and working to implement the Capital Improvement Program.

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Photo: Avala
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