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Belcher Gets Richmond Council Seat
January 10, 2001

The only surprise is the unanimous vote; the vacancy was created by the resignation of Alex Evans 

By Shawn Masten

RICHMOND -- To no one's surprise, the Rev. Charles Belcher was appointed to the City Council Tuesday to fill the seat left vacant by former Councilman Alex Evans. 

The only surprise was that the vote was unanimous. 

Belcher was present with a prepared speech, and his appointment was applauded by dozens of his supporters in the audience. 

"It is my prayer that your vote and confidence will be well-founded," Belcher said. "I thank you for the honor and privilege to serve the city that I love." 

The vote capped several months of political jockeying behind the scenes by council members and special interest groups. Council members Monday had predicted Belcher was the only one of three candidates who could muster the necessary five votes. 

The other candidates were Steve Harvey, a city planning commissioner and former council candidate, and Maria Theresa Viramontes-Campbell, a longtime political activist in the region. 

Belcher didn't say Tuesday how his name first came up for the appointment, but did say he hadn't lobbied the council for the seat. 

Tuesday's vote came after several residents pleaded with the council to keep the seat open until November, when an election will be held. 

"It's appalling to me that there's no public process," said Susan Glick. "It doesn't look right, it doesn't smell right." 

Evans submitted notice Jan. 4 that he was resigning effective Monday. 

By law, the council had until March 9 to fill the seat or leave it open until the general election in November. 

Belcher is the pastor of the Resurrection African Methodist Episcopal Church on Cutting Boulevard in South Richmond. He is a native of the city and serves on the board of Richmond's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He also served on the city's human relations and affirmative action commission. 

Belcher will serve until November. To continue the remaining two years of Evans' term , he will have to stand for election at that time.