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Competitive City Council race brings cash haul, three frontrunners emerge

Three frontrunners have emerged in the home stretch of the race to fill outgoing Richmond 5th District Councilman Parker Agelasto’s seat. Stephanie Lynch, Jer’Mykeal McCoy and Thad Williamson are almost neck-and-neck in regard to fundraising totals, voter enthusiasm and public presence, according to political analyst Bob Holsworth.

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By Morgan Edwards

Three frontrunners have emerged in the home stretch of the race to fill outgoing Richmond 5th District Councilman Parker Agelasto’s seat. Stephanie Lynch, Jer’Mykeal McCoy and Thad Williamson are almost neck-and-neck in regard to fundraising totals, voter enthusiasm and public presence, according to political analyst Bob Holsworth.

With less than three weeks until election day, the seven candidates are working to connect with residents in their district and explaining their stances on key topics.

Earlier this month Richmond Mayorathon held a Focus on the 5th Forum at Randolph Community Center. In attendance were Lynch, McCoy, Williamson, Nicholas Da Silva, Robin Mines, and Chuck Richardson. Candidates Graham Sturm and Mamie Taylor were not present. On Friday, Sturm officially announced that he was dropping out of the race and endorsing Lynch.

“On November 5th, my name will appear on the ballot. When I cast my vote, it will be for Stephanie. Join me in doing the same,” Sturm said in a letter posted to his Facebook page.

New campaign finance reports show Williamson with a slim $133 lead over Lynch. Williamson has raised $22,554 since filing as a candidate. Lynch has raised $22,421. McCoy is not far behind with $18,100 raised. Da Silva and Taylor have raised $8,379 and $2,400, respectively.

Holsworth, who is a managing partner at DecideSmart consulting firm, says the election is still anyone’s game.

“Many of the older residents in the district retain considerable fondness for Chuck Richardson, and Mamie Taylor has actually won a race for school board in the district,” Holsworth said. “With so many candidates in the race, it is certainly possible that the victor will have less than a clear majority of the votes.”

Taylor said her background as a journalist and educator and experience serving on the Richmond City School Board sets her apart from opponents.

“I have a proven history of being incredibly transparent. It’s embedded in me from being a journalist,” Taylor said. “What I know I will always make sure the people know.”

A hot button issue that is driving the race is the $1.5 billion development proposed for the Navy Hill neighborhood. The Navy Hill development was proposed by NH District Corp. in February 2018 and is structured around replacing the aging Richmond Coliseum. It is supported by Mayor Levar Stoney and is currently undergoing review by City Council. All seven candidates oppose the development in its current form.

“Whether it’s protecting taxpayer dollars, funding our schools and basic city services, ensuring access to affordable housing, or being accountable and transparent, these are priorities in question in the Navy Hill deal and [issues] that I’ve heard from voters they want their next city councilperson to deliver on,” Lynch said.

Lynch said she is confident about her chances going into Election Day. She contends that the combination of small donations and voter outreach is giving her the last-minute boost she needs.

“Every day that I knock on doors and talk to people across the 5th, I’m encouraged not only because our campaign’s message is resonating, but because people are really engaged and focused on this race,” Lynch said.

The special election is designed to find a replacement for Agelasto, who is voluntarily resigning in November one year before his term ends. The large number of candidates on the ballot and the fact that no other major office is up for grabs in Richmond has been attracting extra attention from voters and local media.

However, Holsworth predicts that the election may be won in the trenches, rather than in the headlines.

“Old fashioned retail politics – gaining support from community groups, knocking on doors, and developing a ‘buzz’ within the district – is likely to be crucial to the outcome,” Holsworth said.

Taylor says she has purposely avoided participating in corporate-backed events such as Focus on the 5th because she prefers to operate a grass-roots campaign.

Williamson says he enjoys speaking at the forums so voters can get an in-depth look at how he would potentially operate as a city councilman.

“I am pleased that our campaign has done a great job laying out a clear vision of my priorities as a potential City Council member, providing in-depth policy statements on a range of issues, and demonstrating the extensive experience and effectiveness I have already demonstrated as a change agent in local government,” Williamson said. “In each of the candidate forums, I provided a substantive, in-depth and informed answer to every question posed, and we have shared detailed ideas on issues from potholes to education on our website and in candidate questionnaires.”

Williamson said he is focused on addressing Richmond’s education system. According to the candidates interviewed, education is at the top of almost every voter’s list when it comes to issues they care about.

“At the doors, many voters list schools as their top concern, but others are concerned with traffic safety and public safety more generally, expanding job opportunities, housing, potholes, taking care of our parks, and the general performance of city government,” Williamson said. “Without doubt schools is the most common concern.”

McCoy said that campaigning in a competitive race has not fazed him. He sees Richmond’s revival in recent years as an exciting opportunity to tackle new obstacles.

“Richmond has an energy about it that it has not had for a while and it is a beautiful thing,” McCoy said. “We have to figure out how we grow as a city, but more importantly how we grow together. And that is what this campaign is about.”

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Dive In For Shark Science This Summer

Learn about Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo. Baby shark! Mommy shark doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo. Mommy shark! Daddy shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo. Daddy shark!

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Sharks are one of the oldest and most successful predators ever to have lived, but their millions of years of existence still haven’t given humans enough time to overcome fears about the misunderstood animal. In a new touring exhibition on display at the Science Museum of Virginia beginning May 28, guests will learn that sharks have more to fear about humans than we do about the fascinating aquatic creatures.

In “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey,” guests will trace millions of years of evolution, come face-to-face with the great white shark, learn the true impact of the shark fin trade and gain a new level of respect for sharks of all shapes and sizes. The exhibition features shark models cast from real animals, a collection of real teeth and jaws, and extremely rare fossils — some up to 370 million years old.

“Often, what we don’t understand, we fear,” said Virginia C. Ellett Director of Education Timshel Purdum. “The fact that sharks are mysterious combined with decades of media hype has made us scared to dive into their underwater world. In this exhibition, guests will see that sharks are majestic, diverse, powerful and supremely adapted for their environment. Most importantly, they will see that humans are the real threat through practices driving dozens of species to the brink of extinction.”

Photo provided by Science Museum of Virginia

Created in Australia by Grande Experiences and an international team of experts in sharks, marine biology and oceanographic cinematography, “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey” is the only comprehensive shark experience to tour the world. An immersive walk-through gallery utilizes cinema-quality SENSORY4™ technology and features 45 minutes of incredible high-definition underwater footage of sharks in their natural habitats.

“Learning about jaw-dropping shark adaptations and incredible behaviors will go a long way toward helping guests face their fear,” said Purdum. “We’re celebrating all things shark this summer, and I’m confident our enthusiasm for these amazing animals will not only entertain, but also change perspectives.”

Whether they are filled with fear or fascination, the innovative out-of-water shark experience will have guests hooked from start to finish.

Photo provided by Science Museum of Virginia

To complement the exhibition, the Science Museum is offering ocean-themed demos and educational activities throughout the building and hosting Science After Dark events and Lunch Break Science presentations. In addition, the Science Museum is showing the giant screen film “Great White Shark” in The Dome this summer and is hosting “JARS: Sharks on Loan,” a touring exhibition featuring dozens of shark specimens in jars from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William & Mary.

During regular Science Museum operating hours (9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.), admission to “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey” is available through a combination ticket that includes access to the exhibition as well regular Science Museum exhibits. Admission is $21 for adults; $18.50 for youth (ages 6 – 12) and seniors (ages 60 and older); and $15 for preschool-aged children (ages 3 – 5). Discounts are available for teachers, military personnel and EBT cardholders. Science Museum members receive free admission to the exhibition. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets at smv.org.

Not only is the Science Museum reopening seven days a week when “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey” debuts, but to give guests even more chances to see the exhibition while it’s in Richmond, the Science Museum is also offering extended hours June 3 through September 2. On Fridays, the Science Museum will remain open until 8 p.m. “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey” will be the only experience open after 5 p.m., and admission is only $10 during those evenings.

Planet Shark: Predator or Prey” is on display at the Science Museum through September 5. It was created and produced by Grande Experiences and is generously sponsored locally by Markel and GEICO Philanthropic Foundation. Shark-related summer programming in “The Forge” is sponsored by Brandermill Animal Hospital. Educator-led cart activities this summer are sponsored by The London Company.

Photo provided by Science Museum of Virginia

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Suspension Bridge to Belle Isle Closed Today

The bridge should be completed by the weekend.

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The suspension pedestrian bridge to Belle Isle is temporarily closed due to concrete falling from Lee Bridge.

The closure took place Wednesday after city officials received reports of concrete pieces being found on the pedestrian bridge.

“It was concluded that the concrete pieces fell from an open joint of the Lee Bridge. Consequently, the pedestrian bridge located directly under the open joint had to be closed in an effort to protect the public,” a release said.

While the engineers say there is no serious danger they’re putting in a scaffolding protection system along some stretches of the bridge. The installation is taking place today (Thursday) and is expected to be done Friday.

Dominion RiverRock is this weekend and temperatures are in expected in the upper 90’s so usage of the bridge and Belle Isle will be at a season-high.

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Fan Art Stroll Walks Into Your Week

This Thursday and Friday stroll the Fan and check out a ton of artists and a half-ton of bands.

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Fan Arts Stroll Facebook

The Fan Arts Stroll began during the pandemic in Spring 2020, inspired by Fan resident & local artist Greg Holzgrefe, who wanted to move his annual home art show to his front porch. His wife, Sally, found like-minded neighbors, artists, and musicians to create what is now a 12-block annual festival. The stroll path is a loop covering the 1900-2600 blocks of Hanover & Grove Avenues. The Fan Arts Stroll is made possible by the time and talent of a tiny volunteer staff: Sally Holzgrefe, Misty Clark, Rachel Scott Everett, Stephanie Kiefer and Michele Buchanan, as well as the generosity of the community which includes home hosts, artists, vendors, musicians and YOU

 

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