Stephanie Lynch was sworn in as the 5th District representative for the Richmond City Council on Monday, becoming the first woman to represent the district.
Lynch, 32, beat out six other candidates in a special election last month to replace Parker Agelasto on the city’s nine-member legislative body. She will serve out the remaining 13 months of his term.
“I will take a consensus-building approach,” she said. “I hope to be a bridge in many ways, as [Agelasto was], between folks on City Council, the administration, stakeholders to get a lot of good stuff done.”
A social worker by trade, Lynch is director of government affairs, strategy and development at Good Neighbor, which provides mental health and developmental disabilities services. She holds undergraduate degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University in psychology and gender studies, as well as a master’s of social work administration and policy practice.
Lynch was sworn in during a short ceremony inside council chambers at City Hall with her husband, Dustin Dunbar, and parents, Steve and Karen Lynch, looking on. Council members and Mayor Levar Stoney also attended, as did some city administrators.
Lynch thanked her colleagues for sharing advice as she prepared to transition into her first elective office. Also providing guidance, she said, was Agelasto, who Lynch credited as “a role model and wonderful template of what it means to serve the 5th District.” She is retaining Agelasto’s council liaison, Amy Robins, in that role, she said.
Agelasto represented the district from 2013 until Nov. 30. He resigned to avoid a potential removal bid at the hands of the commonwealth’s attorney after he moved out of the district last year. Agelasto, who assisted residents and attended council meetings through the ordeal, remains a popular figure among the district’s residents.
In brief remarks, Lynch spoke of the example set by her father, a federal employee with a 30-year military career.
“He is a selfless, tried-and-true human being that taught me everything I know about how to be a leader and a model citizen, and I thank you so much,” she said.
Afterward, Steve Lynch said he was proud of his daughter and that he believed she would be successful in her new role by “serving for the good of the people and serving for those that don’t necessarily have a voice sometimes, and doing what’s the best for all concerned.”
The district encompasses the neighborhoods of Randolph, Oregon Hill, Woodland Heights, Swansboro, Byrd Park, Maymont, Carytown and part of the Fan District.
Lynch said she would prioritize affordable housing, public education and the James River Park System during her tenure. She said she intends to seek a four-year term next year, when the current term expires.