Charles Samuels on role as City Council president

Now in his second term as 2nd District Councilman, Charles Samuels was elected city council president last week by his fellow council members. Samuels talks about what made him run and what his new duties entail.

Update #1 — January 7th, 7:00 AM

Charles Samuels, the newly-elected Richmond City Council president, says he had no long standing aspirations for the title. It wasn’t until the November 2012 elections had passed and his predecessor, Kathy Graziano, announced she would not seek re-election, did the idea to serve as president even occur to him.

Shortly thereafter, Samuels, the second-term representative of the 2nd District, began discussing his election chances with other council members. “I just kinda put my foot in the water,” he said last week. Dipping his toes in paid off when, last Wednesday, members of City Council unanimously elected him.

“I really appreciate the trust that my fellow councilmembers have in me to do this job,” he said, adding that the unanimous vote is “very, very humbling.”

One of Samuels’s duties as president will be to name councilmembers to the body’s six standing committees.1 Once formal Council meetings begin on January 14th, it will then be Samuels’s duty to assign proposed ordinances and resolutions to the proper committees for consideration.

Samuels will also oversee appointments to openings among 55 local and regional boards,2 including current openings in the Advisory Board of Health, Arts and Cultural Funding Consortium; the Advisory Board of Recreation and Parks; and others.

In addition to running Council meetings and composing their agendas, Samuels said he will continue the efforts of his predecessor to hold bi-weekly meetings with Mayor Dwight Jones. He said doing so is “vital” to ensure that the two key bodies of the City’s government are “working together.”

When asked about any initiatives individual councilmembers might want to bring to Council’s consideration, Samuels said “everybody has projects or issues they’re very dedicated to.” He’s optimistic that the Council will address Richmond’s needs over the coming years.

“We’re really fortunate to have such a good Council now,” he said. “We’re going to have a really phenomenal four years.”

City Council will next convene on Monday the 7th for an organizational development meeting. Formal City Council meetings begin on Monday, January 14th. A schedule of 2013 meetings can be found here (PDF).

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Original — January 2nd, 7:00 PM

Earlier this evening, Councilman Charles Samuels (2nd District) was unanimously elected president of Richmond’s City Council. He replaces current Councilwoman Kathy Graziano (4th District), who had served as president for two years before deciding to step down. Council also unanimously re-elected Ellen Robertson (6th District) to serve as vice president.

In a statement, Mayor Dwight Jones said the following of Samuels and Robertson about their respective elections: “Their leadership, foresight and attention to detail will benefit all of us as we continue to work together to address issues in our city. As we enter 2013, our city is poised for great things! We have made much progress and have had many accomplishments over the past four years. I look forward to working with the entire Council as we continue to Build a Better Richmond.”

Three new council members were also sworn in as a part of this evening’s organizational assembly: Jon Baliles (1st District), Parker Agelasto (5th District), and Michelle Mosby (9th District).


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  1. Each committee comprises three council members and one alternate. Those committees are: Finance and Economic Development; Health, Human Services and Education; Land Use, Housing and Transportation; Governmental Operations; Organizational Development; and Public Safety. 
  2. Although some boards have specific requirements for membership, most are open to Richmond residents. 
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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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