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Should Pantele Step Down as Council Prez?

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Should Pantele Step Down as Council Prez? Bill Pantele the mayoral candidate still controls the gavel as president of City Council, but some city leaders wonder if the two roles should be mutually exclusive.

The vague rumblings -- questions about whether Pantele should step down -- are making the rounds at City Hall and beyond, though Pantele's campaign dismisses the suggestion that there might be some conflict in wearing both hats.

"He's made it very clear that he intends to continue as president of the council, and certainly we see no conflict of interest," says Craig Bieber, Pantele's campaign manager, who told Style last week that it was the first he'd heard of the suggestion.

Others say the conflict is clear: As issues come before council that might provide ammunition for members opposing a Pantele mayorship or might benefit those supporting Pantele's succession, it will be difficult for anyone to vote for what's right for residents over what benefits them politically.
Though his running for mayor necessarily precludes him from running for another term on City Council, there's nothing in the city charter that prevents Pantele from serving as president while campaigning for mayor.

"Because a majority of colleagues on council are supporting mayoral candidates other than him, I think it will be in his best interest and in the best interest of the city if he steps down as City Council president," says Antione Green, president of the Richmond Crusade for Voters. "I think it's going to be very difficult for him under those circumstances for him to be an effective City Council leader."

The Crusade will not endorse candidates for any of the contested city races until September. And while few council members have expressed publicly their support for any of the five mayoral candidates set to appear on November's ballot, Pantele's support among his eight council colleagues is far from unanimous. Some council members are voicing concerns similar to Green's.

"I've got issues about it," says Councilman Marty Jewell, who is not expressly calling for Pantele to step down. Jewell says he would like a full airing of the matter. "Several of us have expressed issues about it."

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