The full-bearded City Councilman behind the decision to declare April “Facial Hair Appreciation Month” in Richmond appeared freshly shaven at a public meeting Monday, dismaying the city's growing number of beard enthusiasts.
“I definitely wish he wouldn’t have done it,” says Stephen Brown, vice president of the Richmond Beard League. “I for one liked having a facial-haired councilman.”
Parker Agelasto’s beard rose to notoriety in the run-up to last year’s election. He was the only full-bearded candidate to seek office, and the beard league considered his victory over Marty Jewell, who sports a mustache, a step forward for city residents with facial hair. Currently the only other City Council member with a beard is Chris Hilbert, who has a small, trim goatee-mustache combination.
Agelasto’s beard is also notable outside local political circles. Late last month he competed in the Mid-Atlantic Beard and Mustache Competition hosted in Richmond by the Beard League. Out of a field of 24 competitors, Agelasto won fifth place in the full-beard (under one inch) category.
And as an extra in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” Agelasto’s beard was featured in theaters around the world.
Agelasto defends his decision to shave and denies accusations of pandering. “I hope that [my constituents] voted for me for more reasons than just my beard,” he says. “I will continue to … defend the position of all men and women with facial hair.”
Travis Oliver, the treasurer of the Beard League, says he believes Agelasto and has no problem with his decision to shave. Vice President Brown concurs, though both say they hope Agelasto eventually decides to grow it back.
“He’s done a lot of good things in the community with a beard,” Oliver says. “Even without a beard, I think he'll still be a supporter of facial hair in Richmond and in the entire state of Virginia as well.”