Stephanie Lynch won a special election for the 5th District Richmond City Council seat Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections.
Lynch received just about 28% of the vote. Her closest opponent won about 16%. Eight candidates vied to replace Councilman Parker Agelasto on the nine-member council. She will take office Dec. 1.
“I’m feeling extremely humbled and honored honestly. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet," she said. "My mind is racing about how to get started.”
Trailing Lynch was Mamie Taylor, a former Richmond School Board representative, who received just under 16% of the vote. Finishing third was Thad Williamson, a University of Richmond professor and former adviser to Mayor Levar Stoney.
Three other candidates – Nicholas Da Silva, Henry 'Chuck' Richardson and Jer’Mykeal McCoy – tallied vote percentages in the double digits, as well.
Lynch, 32, is a resident of the Woodland Heights neighborhood in South Richmond. She is director of government affairs, strategy and development for Good Neighbor, a nonprofit.
Voters at the polls on Tuesday cited her experience as a social worker and her residency in South Richmond as contributing to their decision to support her.
“She’s experienced firsthand some of the issues that need to be addressed in the district,” said Karin Taylor, who voted at Swansboro Elementary. “She knows what’s going on on this side of the river.”
Lynch will serve out the last 13 months of Agelasto’s current four-year term on the council, representing a district that straddles the James River.
The district encompasses the neighborhoods of Randolph, Oregon Hill, Woodland Heights, Swansboro, Byrd Park, Maymont, Carytown and part of the Fan District.
Agelasto has represented the district since 2013. He is resigning on Nov. 30, the result of a deal he cut to avoid a potential removal bid at the hands of the commonwealth’s attorney after Agelasto moved out of the district last year.
Lynch will join the council in the middle of its review of the $1.5 billion plan to redevelop downtown around a new arena that would replace the Richmond Coliseum. She has said she would not support the proposal currently on the table.
“I think I was elected because I made a promise to residents of the 5th District and the city to listen and ensure we have community buy in on this project,” she said. “Clearly that’s not there at the moment.”
Lynch prevailed in a contest that saw five candidates condemn another for distributing what they branded an "unethical" sample ballot.
Handing out the ballot in question were Williamson's supporters, who distributed a flyer that mirrored the design of sample ballots issued by the Richmond City Democratic Committee. Williamson’s name was shown on the ballot handed out to voters even though the local committee did not endorse a candidate in the special council election.
“This is beyond unethical, and these types of misleading tactics have their roots in voter deception that has disproportionately affected African American voters,” stated a joint new release five of his opponents signed and issued Tuesday afternoon.
Signing the release were Da Silva, Lynch, McCoy, Richardson and Robin Mines.
The sample ballot Williamson’s supporters distributed included a disclosure that he had paid for and authorized it. Eric Payne, Williamson’s campaign manager, said he used a template to make the ballot in question, which he said was intended to “highlight that [Williamson] is a Democrat.”
Payne, a member of the Richmond City Democratic Committee’s executive team, said he disagreed with the charge that the ballot was unethical.
“I’ve put out similar sample ballots for nonpartisan candidates before and never gotten any pushback,” he said. “I can’t speak for any candidates, but maybe some of them wish they had a sample ballot.”
Jamie Nolan, chairwoman of the local committee, said the committee would review the matter after Election Day.
In other city contests, Colette McEachin was elected to a four-year term as Commonwealth’s Attorney. She ran unopposed.
Edward Jewett was re-elected as Clerk of Court. He, too, ran unopposed.