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Jilting Jewell

Does Parker Agelasto’s victory mean the end of City Council’s jousting?



Oh, how the Marty hath fallen.

By 10 p.m., the numbers for longtime Councilman E. Martin Jewell aren’t looking good. Parker C. Agelasto, Jewell’s upstart challenger in the 5th City Council district, can’t quite seem to believe it. He keeps checking the numbers on the TV at Mint, the upscale restaurant on West Main Street, and on supporters’ phones.

“We might even win this with a majority vote -- instead of a plurality vote,” Agelasto says earlier in the night. “That would really unite the district.”

Unite, unity, collaboration: These are Agelasto’s favorite words, the ones he repeats in his answers to every question about what he would do as councilman.

“Council is supposed to be collaborative,” he maintains. Its role, he says, is “certainly working with the mayor, but also presenting new ideas to the mayor.”

Jewell’s style is quite the opposite. With a colorful, outspoken style (“What the ham sandwich?” is one favorite expression), he’s long been a thorn in Mayor Dwight Jones’ side on issues such as the city jail contract.

Agelasto’s not a fan of a combative council that’s split along its lines of allegiance -- “this kind of 6-3, 5-4,” he says, adding “I think it’s time to move the city forward.”

Just before 9 p.m., Jewell departs his election night party at the Martini Bubble Bar and Kitchen on West Main Street to fetch results from the one precinct yet to report results. With about 70 percent of votes tallied, Jewell is down with 40 percent of the vote to Agelasto’s 50 percent. The scene at the party is bleak. A handful of supporters are slumped in plush chairs.

Everett Fields, one of Jewell’s supporters, senses what’s in store. “I think the children just got shot in the heart,” he says, alluding to the poor state of Richmond’s public schools. “Councilman Jewell is the only one who comes through.”

At the least, Agelasto is supplanting one of the last old-school, confrontational politicians on City Council -- at least for the next four years.

“He’s all about bringing everyone together,” friend and former Fan neighbor Martin Smith says at Mint. “Bringing Richmond, Virginia together.”

“He’s so well organized that he gets frustrated when people aren’t,” explains Agelasto’s brother Peter, who has come from Nelson County to attend Agelasto’s victory party Tuesday night. Agelasto decided to run for office after he realized there was no one he wanted to vote for, Peter Agelasto says: “This guy is crazy enough to want to do it.”

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