Council Leadership in Flux

Councilwoman in mayor’s corner reportedly pushing to take gavel from President Charles Samuels.

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Michelle Mosby - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Michelle Mosby

First-term City Councilwoman Michelle Mosby reportedly is making a bid to take over as council president at the beginning of the year.

Sources say Mosby, who represents the South Side’s 9th District, has approached fellow council members seeking support.

Style was unable to corroborate a report yesterday by the Richmond Free Press, which said she already has the votes necessary to win. But sources say that a contest between current President Charles Samuels and Mosby could be competitive.

The council president sets agendas for and presides over City Council meetings. The position also offers a higher public profile.

Mosby has emerged as a strong ally of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, in contrast to Samuels, who emerged as a key opponent of the mayor’s biggest initiative: a proposal to build a ballpark-centered development in Shockoe Bottom. So it follows that Jones’ administration and his supporters on council would seek a change.

But Mosby has challenges to overcome. For instance, in October last year, Mosby voted against the city in recognizing same-sex marriages, which could make it difficult for council’s more progressive members to support her.

Mosby and Samuels bring different styles of governance to the chambers. Mosby typically is quieter but occasionally confrontational. Memorably, she once turned to address hecklers in the audience of a particularly raucous meeting. “Everyone comes up here and acts like everybody on this council has no feelings,” she told those gathered. “Unacceptable. … Michelle Renee Smith Johnson Mosby has feelings for people, and she will fight for all people.”

In presiding over meetings, Samuels takes a sometimes paternal approach to arbitrating disagreement. At the same meeting, he threatened to “turn the chambers around and go home” if the audience didn’t calm down.

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