A beginner’s guide to eight candidates of the 5th District City Council election

5th District residents can vote on the eight candidates on Nov. 5. Photos compiled by Jeffrey Pohanka

Anna Madigan

Contributing Writer

Sarah Elson

Contributing Writer

Richmond City Council’s 5th District — which covers most of the Fan, parts of Southside,  and a large portion of VCU’s Monroe Park campus — will hold a special election Nov. 5. The elected member will fill the remainder of former councilman Parker Agelasto’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2020.

Nicholas Da Silva

After surviving an attack in Charlottesville, in which a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd of people protesting the “Unite the Right” rally, Nicholas Da Silva decided politics could help him make a change.

The recent VCU graduate’s candidacy centers around a five point plan, addressing tenant empowerment, public school funding, access to public transportation, public housing development and police accountability.

Da Silva’s idea for a Richmond Police civilian review board was influenced by the shooting of high school teacher Marcus David Peters, who was killed by police in May 2018.

“Police accountability is the first thing I would want to do when I get to the office because it is long overdue in Richmond,” Da Silva said.

Da Silva’s campaign is backed by Lee Carter, a 50th District representative in the Virginia House of Delegates, and several other Virginia politicians.


Photo courtesy of Nicholas Da Silva

Stephanie Lynch

After losing a race for student body president at VCU, Stephanie Lynch thought she would never run for a leadership position again. In graduate school, she wrote her thesis on negative experiences that deter women from running in academia.

“I’m proving my own hypothesis wrong,” Lynch said.

This is her first time running for political office, but Lynch has worked with many Virginia politicians. In 2015, she worked with Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam for Medicaid expansion.

Lynch has a background in social work and experience advocating for addiction recovery and mental health.

If elected, Lynch wants to fully fund Richmond’s parks and rec, help the city become sustainable and implement trauma-informed care into Richmond Public Schools, training teachers and administrators to recognize and respond to trauma, such as abuse, neglect and bullying. 

Website: electstephanielynch.com

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lynch

Jer’Mykeal McCoy

Jer’Mykeal McCoy’s campaign focuses on affordable housing, workforce development and education.

McCoy is a business development manager at Schutt Sports and serves as the president for the Urban League of Greater Richmond Young Professionals.

The league focuses on civil rights and urban advocacy. In 2017, McCoy served on the advisory council for Richmond 300: A Guide for Growth. The council consisted of 21 group leaders tasked with updating Richmond’s master plan.

McCoy is also a member of the Black Business Alliance of Virginia and the Life Church RVA. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Tennessee State University and a master’s in sports industry management from Georgetown University.

In 2014, McCoy was a postgraduate intern for the NAACP in its Office of Government Relations.

McCoy did not respond to requests for comment.

Website: mccoyforrva.com.

Photo courtesy of Jer’Mykeal McCoy

Rev. Robin Mines

Rev. Robin Mines is a minister at Hood Temple AME Zion Church, an African Methodist Episcopal church. Mines is most concerned with safety and the education system in Richmond. If elected, Mines said she would like to establish “community schools that offer more than just academic curriculum.”

The Richmond native grew up during the civil rights era in the 5th District. Mines believes an effort across all denominations can bring back a strong sense of community in her home district.

“I am pushing for church collaboration across denominational and color lines to pull together on missions across the community,” Mines said.

This is Mines’ first time running for political office. She said the biggest challenge to her campaign is finance. She feels that if she can raise money for a campaign, then she should put that money back into the community.

Photo courtesy of Rev. Robin Mines


Chuck Richardson

Chuck Richardson is running for the 5th District seat after spending 24 years outside of politics. His campaign is focused on accountability.

“I would like the citizens, first of all, to be better served,” Richardson said. “I would like for them to know that as long as the doors of city hall are closed, if Chuck Richardson is there, they will be there.”

Richardson addressed constituents who are reluctant to trust him after his resignation in 1995.

“Tell them that people said in those days, I was the best councilman ever elected,” Richardson said.

Richardson held the seat from 1977 to 1995, before he was arrested for heroin distribution. His voting rights were restored in 2016.

Richardson also said that the narrative surrounding addiction needs to be changed. 

“It’s a medical problem with a criminal element of effect, and we should treat it that way — we don’t,” Richardson said.

Photo courtesy of Chuck Richardson


Graham Sturm

Graham Sturm, who grew up in Chesterfield County, is a history teacher and department chair at Armstrong Highschool in Richmond. He is a member of the LGBTQ community, and if If he were elected, Sturm would be Richmond City Council’s first openly gay member.

Sturm’s campaign is focused on education and rebuilding Richmond schools, which he says will require changes in the priorities of Richmond City Council. He says schools need to be rezoned in an equitable way.

“We can set priorities where we prioritize our needs over our wants, and also following that model, schools fall into the things that we need,” Sturm said. “Making sure that we rebuild our schools, rather than continue to kick the can down the road.”

As a high school teacher, Sturm witnessed the need firsthand for better schools in Richmond, which motivated him to enter the 5th District race.

Website: grahamrva5.com

Photo courtesy Graham Sturm


Mamie Taylor

Mamie Taylor’s political career began while she was teaching for Richmond Public Schools.

“I was concerned about the condition of the facilities, the curriculum not being aligned with instruction, … and children not being prepared for work, military or higher learning,” Taylor said.

That prompted Taylor to run for the 5th District seat on the Richmond School Board in 2012. After four years there, she fell short of reelection in 2016 and turned her sights to the open 5th District city council seat.

Taylor’s candidacy is focused on tax reform for Dominion Energy.

“As of now, the utility company providing services to the city pays a flat rate, regardless of cost incurred, and the Richmond taxpayers make up the difference,” Taylor said. “Those savings generated from revenues received should definitely be passed on to the constituents accordingly.”

Taylor says her financial support comes from the community, and the endorsement process is “just the beginning.”

Facebook: facebook.com/MamieTaylorForThe5th

Photo courtesy of Mamie Taylor


Thad Williamson

University of Richmond professor Thad Williamson is campaigning for economic opportunity and to improve Richmond Public Schools.

The professor says the issues are linked, and helping economically stressed parents can help their children too.

“It’s hard to have your schools be as successful as you would like when the children bring so many challenges and traumatic experiences from home,” Williamson said. “So, I think we have to both invest in schools, and we have to invest in the entire community.”

Williamson served as co-chair of the Maggie Walker Initiative for Expanding Opportunity and Fighting Poverty from June 2014 to May 2016. The initiative worked to create the Office of Community Wealth Building, which focuses on reducing the poverty rate.

As senior policy advisor in the office of Mayor Levar Stoney, he developed the RVA Education Compact, which set academic achievement goals on par or better than state benchmarks.

Website: thadforrva.com

Photo courtesy of Thad Williamson

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