What is City Council?
The Richmond City Council is the city’s formal governing body.
Mission: The mission of the Richmond City Council is to represent citizens in creating and amending local laws, providing government policy and oversight, and approving the budget.
Vision: Richmond City Council is committed to creating a vibrant community that is a great place to live, work, learn, play, visit, and raise a family.
The Richmond City Council consists of six standing committees, mirroring the state and federal structure of government. The Council president reviews all proposed legislation and then assigns it to a Council standing committee based on its subject matter. The six standing committees include:
- Finance and Economic Development
- Health, Human Services and Education
- Land Use, Housing and Transportation
- Governmental Operations
- Organizational Development
- Public Safety
In addition to the standing committees, the City Council also creates about 50 commissions, task forces, and boards to serve advisory, policy, or governing functions. The City Council and the mayor appoint citizens to serve on these boards, further highlighting the importance of citizen engagement in the local government.
Who is on the City Council?
City Council is made up of nine members representing each of the city’s nine voting districts. Each council member is elected to a four-year term and can be re-elected. The council chooses one member to serve as president, and another to serve as vice president, each for two year terms.
First Voter District – Andreas Addison
- Birthplace: Alexandria, VA
- Education: Central High School, Woodstock, VA (2000); Major in Political Science from Virginia Tech (2004); MBA from University of Richmond (2012)
- Profession: Financial Specialist at Wachovia; Operations Analyst at Circuit City; Management Analyst at City Hall (2008); Civic Innovator and leader of special projects at City Hall
- More Info: http://addisonforcouncil.com/about-andreas/
Second Voter District – Kimberly Gray
- Hometown: Richmond, VA
- Profession: Richmond School Board, Second District representative; Partnership for Achieving Successful Schools (PASS) initiative; four-year appointment in the administration of Governor Tim Kaine
- More Info: http://www.kimgray4rva.com/bio
Third Voter District – Chris Hilbert (Council President)
- Education: B.S. in Finance and M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership Graduate; Leadership Metro Richmond Graduate
- Profession: Senior Community Housing Officer, Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA)
- Terms Served: 2005-2006, 2007-2008, 2009-2012, 2013-2016
- Committee Assignments: Public Safety (Vice Chair), Organizational Development (Member), Education and Human Services (Member)
- Other Appointments: Advisory Board of Health, Richmond Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (alternate)
- More Info: http://chrishilbert2016.com/home/
Fourth Voter District – Kristen Larson
- Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware
- Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communication (1997)
- Profession: National Academy of Sciences, Officeof News and Public Information; Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions; America Online (AOL); Rubber Manufacturers Association; Board at Patrick Henry, school spokesperson; Richmond School Board’s 4th district representative; co-chair of the RPS Facilities Committee; RPS board liaison to the Greater Richmond Chamber; City of Richmond Early Childhood Action Team.
- More Info: http://www.electkristenlarson.com/about
Fifth Voter District – Stephanie Lynch
- Education: Double major in Psychology and Gender Studies with an African American Studies minor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Master’s of Social Work (MSW) degree with a concentration in Social Work Administration and Policy Practice.
- Elected November 5, 2019 to fill the remaining 13 months of 2017-2020 term that was voluntarily vacated on November 30, 2019 by Councilmember Parker C. Agelasto.
- Committee Assignments: Finance and Economic Development (Alternate), Organizational Development (Member), Education and Human Services (Member), Public Safety (Alternate)
- More Info: https://www.electstephanielynch.com/about/
Sixth Voter District – Ellen Robertson
- Education: Central High School, Goochland County; Richmond Technical Center; B.S. in Urban Studies and Planning from Virginia Commonwealth Unviersity
- Profession: Full Time City Council Memeber, retired Community and Housing Developer
- Terms Served: 2003-2004, 2005-2006, 2007-2008, 2009-2012, 2013-2016
- Committee Assignments: Land Use, Housing and Transportation (Chair), Education and Human Services (Vice Chair), Organizational Development (Member), Finance and Economic Development (Member)
- Other Appointments: Affordable Housing Trust Fund Oversight Board, Citizen Advisory Commission on Alternatives to Incarceration, Richmond Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Planning Commission, Virginia First Cities, Workforce Development Oversight Board
Seventh Voter District – Cynthia Newbille (Council Vice-President)
- Birthplace: Richmond, VA
- Education: B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics from Stony Brook University, M.A. in Psychology from Stony Brook University, Ph.D. in Public Policy from Virginia Commonwealth University
- Profession: Consultant, Organizational Management and Administration
- Terms Served: 2009-2012, 2013-2016
- Committee Assignments: Education and Human Services (Chair), Governmental Operations (Member), Organizational Development (Member)
- Other Appointments: Richmond Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Richmond Ambulance Authority, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, Sister Cities Commission, Slave Trail Commission
Eighth Voter District – Reva Trammell
- Education: Surry Academy, Surry, VA
- Profession: President/CEO, RMT LLC
- Terms Served: 1998-2000, 2001-2002, 2007-2008, 2009-2012, 2013-2016
- Committee Assignments: Public Safety (Chair), Organizational Development (Member)
- Other Appointments: Richmond Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (alternate)
Ninth Voter District – Michael Jones
- Birthplace: Portsmouth, VA
- Education: Sociology Major, University of Colorado, Boulder; Seminary at Virginia Union University; Master of Divinity from STVU; doctorate from McCormick Theological, Chicago, IL
- Profession: Venture Richmond; White Oaks Commission; Pastor at Village of Faith Church
- More Info: https://www.facebook.com/pg/mjcitycouncil9th/about/?ref=page_internal
What Does City Council Do?
The Council is responsible for budgeting municipal services, such as trash collection, utilities, the maintenance of roads, and the funding of the public schools. The Council is also responsible for setting property taxes.
City Council has two primary tools:
- Is an authoritative rule or regulation with the impact of a law
- Requires a majority of five members of Council for adoption
- Are used to pass the official budget, giving the city’s annual budget the force of law
- Can be an emergency ordinance:
- Is passed only for the “immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety”
- Must have been printed in a local newspaper or published in general circulation
- Requires six votes for adoption
- Expresses formally the opinion or intent without the force of a law
- Is used to appoint individuals to various authorities, boards, and commissions
- Can create certain ad hoc boards or commissions
In addition, the Council may issue formal awards:
- Council may award individuals who, or businesses and organizations that, inspire others and help make Richmond a better place in line with the Council’s vision.
How Can I Participate?
Typically, City Council holds formal meetings on the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in City Hall, where there are opportunities for citizen engagement.
Within the official order of business, the public may speak during the following periods:
- Consent agenda: non-controversial or routine business determined not to need discussion
- Individuals may speak for three minutes.
- Occasionally, citizens can influence members of the council to move an item from the consent agenda to the regular docket, meaning it will be more fully discussed and debated.
- Citizen comment period: time for the public to address the Council on any matter not on the agenda, including issues such as services, policies, and city affairs
- Individuals are encouraged to schedule their time with the Office of the City Clerk, (804) 646-7955, by 12 p.m. on the date of that meeting. They must provide a description of the topic they wish to discuss.
- Individuals may speak for no longer than three minutes, no more than four times a year, and no more than once within a 90-day period.
Citizens who are not able to attend City Council meetings can communicate directly with their respective Council members through phone calls, email, or attendance at one of their district town hall meetings. See above for information on contacting Council members.
Members of the public often speak directly to Council members at City Council meetings. Citizens have the right to speak before their elected officials to raise their concerns and express their ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
How Can I Prepare?
Before each formal council meeting, the public can usually access the agenda online at least a week in advance. The following image is a screenshot of a page from the agenda for the City Council meeting on May 27, 2014:
Summary of highlighted information:
- Ord. No. 2014-117
- This ordinance was forwarded to the formal council meeting by the Land Use, Housing, and Transportation Standing Committee.
- It would repeal a city code that deals with tax exemption status of certain buildings.
- Res. No. 2014-R73
- This resolution advanced by the Education and Human Services Committee lacks the power of law.
- Note the language: it can only “encourage restaurants, churches, schools” or other food handlers to “donate unserved excess foods to charitable organizations” (emphasis added).
- Res. No. 2014-R77
- This is a resolution to approve the appointment of a certain individual to an authority affiliated with regional governance, the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
- This is an example of a resolution in use to appoint an individual to a governing authority.
These items are just a few highlights of the different actions that the City Council takes at each meeting. All of the information about an ordinance or resolution, including its text and status, can be found on this site.
When using this online database service provided by the city, an ordinance can be searched in the paper number box under the advanced search options. The paper number for the above ordinance, for example, would be 2014-117. The resolutions could be found by typing in 2014-R73 or 2014-R77 respectively.