We are glad that Richmond City Councilman Parker Agelasto has decided to resign from City Council. We only wish he would step down before Nov. 30. Last summer, Agelasto and his wife purchased a home in the 4200 block of West Franklin Street. The move meant the family would be living in the 1st District and leaving behind the 5th District that Agelasto has represented since 2013. The new home, said the councilman at the time, was “a temporary place to be able to house everybody in preparation for the new baby.”
In November 2018, Agelasto announced that he would not seek reelection to a third term in 2020, but planned to serve out the rest of his current term. In a December editorial, we called for his resignation noting that because of the family’s move, he could no longer adequately represent the 5th District. After all, representative government means living among those you represent. Three of Agelasto’s constituents formally challenged him in December, arguing that since he was no longer a registered voter in the 5th District, he could not serve as its representative. This is not a commentary on his ability as a council member, but rather on his decision not to step down earlier.
Facing legal action, Agelasto announced in an April 23 newsletter to his constituents that he would resign his seat Nov. 30 — a full year before his term is set to end. According to a news story by the RTD’s Mark Robinson, “the announcement comes about a month after Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring said he met with Agelasto and his attorneys and told them he would not pursue the councilman’s removal if he resigned by year’s end.”
In his newsletter, rather than admitting he erred in purchasing a home outside of his district, Agelasto seems to blame City Attorney Allen Jackson for giving him “seemingly dubious advice.” Jackson denies providing Agelasto with a formal opinion on the issue.
Not everyone is happy with the November resignation date. “I think it’s preposterous,” said Sa’ad El-Amin, a former 6th District representative. “How can you resign a position you’ve already abandoned?” Chuck Richardson, a former 5th District representative, agreed. “It is unconscionable, unacceptable to acknowledge that he has violated the law and then dictate when he is going to serve his punishment,” Richardson said. It should be noted, however, that both El-Amin and Richardson have had their own share of legal issues.
Throughout the turmoil, Agelasto has continued to actively serve on City Council. But, as a reader pointed out to us, perhaps that needs to be reviewed. If his position already has been determined to be extralegal, why should he stay until November? And, more importantly, why should he be permitted to remain a voting member on City Council representing a district in which he doesn’t live? After all, it’s not an at-large seat.
— Robin Beres