Why former City Council President Charles Samuels won’t seek re-election

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Charles Samuels

Charles Samuels

RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond City Council member Charles Samuels announced Friday he would not seek re-election when his term ended in 2016. Samuels, who served as council president in 2013 and 2014, was first elected to represent the city’s 2nd district in 2008. He said he made the decision not to run after “much careful deliberation.”

“When you placed your trust in me in 2008 I was 32 years old. At the end of this term I’ll be 40 and will have served eight years. In looking back over the past near-decade I am incredibly grateful for your support over and over again,” Samuels said in a statement. “I believe that eight years is an appropriate length of time to serve on City Council. No elected official has a monopoly on wisdom or good judgment. The reason I announced my decision now is to be sure that the citizens of our district have as much time as possible to think about the kind of person they want to represent them next.”

Samuels said his time in office was highlighted by:

  • Preserving and expanding neighborhood policing
  • Making police and fire department wages more competitive
  • Protecting the James River Park System from development
  • Working with community leaders to enact a sound control laws

Samuels’ 2nd district consists of neighborhood in north central Richmond.

City Council map

Below is the official statement Samuels released about his decision not to seek re-election.

It is bittersweet for me to announce that I will not seek re-election as a Richmond City Council Member for the Richmond North Central 2nd Voter District in 2016. This is a decision I have made after much careful deliberation.

When I first ran for Richmond City Council in 2008 I wanted to show that an “ordinary citizen” could make a difference in City government. Together, I believe we have. When you placed your trust in me in 2008 I was 32 years old. At the end of this term I’ll be 40 and will have served eight years. In looking back over the past near-decade I am incredibly grateful for your support over and over again.

During my time in office we have worked together to protect our quality of life, demand government accountability, and promote neighborhood revitalization.

More specifically, we preserved and expanded neighborhood policing to reduce the City’s crime rate, reinstating the career development plan and making our police and fire department wages more competitive with neighboring jurisdictions.

We permanently protected the James River Park System from development with a conservation easement. We worked with community leaders to enact a sound control law. We successfully advocated for workplace anti-discrimination laws.

I drafted the initial Arts District ordinance and wrote the new law to remove graffiti on unoccupied property. I wrote the new law to increase safety and security presence around night clubs to halt a series of violent deaths.

I have taken a fiscally responsible approach to budget matters, opposing tax increases in a time of recession. We eliminated certain taxes for the first two years a business is in Richmond to encourage the creation of more jobs.

I have fought to reduce government expenses without cutting core services – culminating this year by joining my Council colleagues to significantly improve the proposed budget by providing additional funding to schools while ensuring accountability.

Neighborhood revitalization remains a priority of mine. We were able to obtain funding to renovate Monroe and Abner Clay Parks and create dedicated funding for neighborhood improvements by reallocating parking ticket fines.

Being a City Councilman has and will be a full-time job for me until the end of my second term. I want to use the experience I have gained and the relationships I have formed as your Councilman to represent you effectively until January 1, 2017.

I will miss attending all the meetings and events organized by the nearly 30 different neighborhood associations in our district and all the opportunities this position affords to interact with so many wonderful folks.

Richmond has changed a lot in the past near-decade. We are now known to many people as RVA. Among a host of accolades, we are routinely ranked among the best places to live, work and play in the U.S.

Over and above all of the Top Ten lists, the two most important accomplishments I take pride in are that Richmond is a safer city than when I took office and that our schools are headed in the right direction.

I believe that eight years is an appropriate length of time to serve on City Council. No elected official has a monopoly on wisdom or good judgment. The reason I announced my decision now is to be sure that the citizens of our district have as much time as possible to think about the kind of person they want to represent them next.

Public service is a noble cause and remains my passion. I look forward to starting a new chapter in my life with new opportunities to serve my neighbors. I will continue to be engaged in our City’s public life and the discussions about our priorities for the future.

I cannot thank you enough for the support you’ve shown me over the past seven years. I will always cherish the friendships we’ve made and the shared accomplishments. You have helped make my 30s a wonderful time in my life.

Finally, I must thank my wife. Some days it seems that Krista (and our son, Henry) have seen less of me than some of you! She has dealt with all that comes with public service with a grace and a strength that astounds me daily. I never really believed elected officials when they said they were not running again to spend more time with family, but now that I have lived it I totally understand!

Thanks again for all your help and support!