5th District Geography
Richmond’s 5th District includes areas north and south of the James River. In the north, the district is bounded by Floyd Avenue west of North Shields Avenue and east of North Laurel Street. East of North Shields to Rothesay Road, the district is bounded by Ellwood Avenue. The 5th District is bounded in the south mainly by Hull Street. In the east, it is mostly bounded by South Belvidere Street, which turns into Cowardin Avenue in the south after it crosses the Robert E. Lee Bridge. The district includes much of the southern portion of VCU’s Monroe Park Campus, including the Gladding Residence Center dorms and Cary and Belvidere student housing. It includes Oregon Hill, Carytown and southern portions of the Fan.
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Political Experience: No previously held offices
Current Employment: Museum consultant, adjunct faculty at the University of Virginia
Parker Agelasto says he’s the best choice for students in the 5th District Coucil race that pits him against longtime Councilman Marty Jewell and fellow candidate Lee Shewmake.
Agelasto said his position as an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia allows him to connect with students.
“I’m immersed in the everyday environment that our students live in,” he said. “I think in terms of the candidates that are out there, I’m probably the most relatable to the VCU students.”
Agelasto is originally from Virginia Beach. He grew up in the Tidewater area and earned two masters degrees, one in art history from UVa and an M.B.A. from UVa’s Darden Business School. In 1998, Agelasto began working at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. Agelasto eventually found his way to Richmond in 2006 as a curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The first-time candidate has received the endorsement of the Richmond City Democratic Committee. Agelasto said he has been very involved in the Richmond community, as a member of the Fan District Association and working with the 2010 Census. He decided to run for the 5th District seat because he said he believes Jewell has become disengaged with the VCU and Richmond community.
“We need more accessibility to our elected officials,” Agelasto said. “We need somebody who’s going to be responding to emails. We need somebody who can communicate with us in the modes of communications that we’ve adapted to. We’ve got to become more modern.”
He also saw many things that needed to be improved in Richmond that directly impact students at VCU, like parking.
“The city has not worked with the community or the school to address parking. They have put the burden of parking onto the neighborhoods,” Agelasto said. “What has happened is you now have these restricted parking zones with increased fines, parking fees and enforcement.”
Agelasto said that VCU has worked to address the problem by building parking decks, but he thinks they are overpriced and feels the decks should be opened up for free at night.
Community safety is one of the most important issues for Agelasto, especially with the number of recent robberies in the area.
“We have seen a real spike in crime around the Monroe Park C ampus. We need to make sure that everybody knows that this is happening and how to be safer about protecting themselves,” Agelasto said.
Agelasto is already implementing new safety initiatives. He is going door to door to make sure people know their neighbors, their schedules and the area around them so they can identify when activities are suspicious or out of the ordinary.
“We’ve got to make sure that people realize that the campus and the neighbors around the campus are vulnerable,” Agelasto said. “They’re being preyed on by people who’re seizing on an opportunity.”
In order to to have a safer community, Agelasto thinks the city must help bridge the divide between VCU students and Richmond residents, adding that his ability to relate to students would aid in such efforts.
“These aren’t just student issues to me. They’re issues that affect my community,” he said. “We have to make sure a council person can show leadership and bring (together) those who have resided in our neighborhoods for 60 years with those who are just moving into the neighborhood.”