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Stephanie Lynch Wins Special Election In Richmonds 5th District City Council Race

Social worker and healthcare lobbyist Stephanie Lynch won the 5th District special election on Tuesday.
Social worker and healthcare lobbyist Stephanie Lynch won the 5th District special election on Tuesday.

Social worker Stephanie Lynch pulled ahead of a crowded field of seven candidates Tuesday night to win the Richmond City Council 5th District special election.

Lynch will replace Councilman Parker Agelasto, who was forced to resign after admitting to moving outside of his district last year. With more than 7,000 residents voting in the election, Lynch took around 27 percent of the vote. She easily beat out her closest opponents, Thad Williamson and Mamie Taylor, who each received about 15 percent.

After the votes were tallied Tuesday night, Lynch said they were honored to represent Richmond’s 5th district, which includes parts of the Carytown, Carver and Southside neighborhoods.

Lynch said her first priorities as a city council member will be to support ongoing conservation efforts in the city and create an emergency eviction relief fund for public housing residents at risk of being on the streets.

“What’s happening is immoral and wrong,” she said. “I want to work with the board and community members and residents to make sure we have a plan to keep people in their homes.”

Last month, 52 Creighton Court residents had their eviction cases heard in Richmond Circuit Court.

Lynch also says she wants to be heavily involved in the ongoing vetting of the $1.5 billion proposed redevelopment of the Richmond Coliseum and the surrounding Navy Hill neighborhood. 

In response to a candidate questionnaire sent out by VPM, Lynch said she was opposed to any redevelopment deal that may leave taxpayers on the hook.

“I have engaged actively with the Advisory Commission and experts on all sides of the issue, but remain skeptical about the use of both an eighty-square block ‘Tax Increment Finance District,’ and the use of ‘non-recourse’ revenue bonds, as is currently proposed,” Lynch said. “We need to go about a full accounting of our options, including the possibility of simply selling off the existing underdeveloped land to competitive bidders.”

A potential “No” vote from the 5th District representative could complicate the Coliseum redevelopment proposal, which will need city council approval. 

Four of nine city council members — Kim Gray, Chris Hilbert, Kristen Larson and Reva Trammell — have said they have serious concerns about the potential redevelopment project. Thad Williamson, a former advisor to Mayor Levar Stoney, was the only 5th District candidate who refused to take an official position against the project. 

Williamson was the first person to announce their candidacy for the 5th District city council seat and was considered the favorite to win the election. Williamson and social worker Stephanie Lynch led the pack in fundraising heading into the election.

Reached by phone Tuesday night, Williamson said he hoped Lynch would bring a progressive presence to Richmond City Council.

“There were a lot of good ideas presented by candidates at the forums and town halls, and I can feel Richmond steadily becoming a more and more progressive place,” Williamson said.

Throughout the election, Lynch campaigned heavily for better schools, inclusive economic development and increasing transparency in city hall. She also said more affordable housing is needed within the 5th district. 

According to data from Richmond’s Real Estate Assessor’s Office, residential property values in the city have increased by nearly 18 percent since 2013. Recent assessments also showed a 25% year-over-year increase in Swansboro and about a 10% increase in Randolph.

“It is a testament to how incredible our vibrant and historic neighborhoods are that we have an influx of people moving in and buying homes in neighborhoods such as Randolph and Swansboro,” Lynch said. “We need to ensure that as we grow, we are helping families that have called these neighborhoods home for generations keep up with rising property values, assessments, and taxes.”

You can learn more about where Lynch stands on important community issues important here.