The Richmond City Council chambers erupted into applause after newly appointed Councilmember Vinay Pimple was sworn in Tuesday.
Pimple’s unexpected appointment by the council last week avoided a special election that had been estimated to cost taxpayers $500,000.
The selection came after City Councilmember Eduardo Martinez, a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), pushed for Pimple even though the Indian American attorney was not one of the RPA’s preferred candidates. The move broke a seemingly impenetrable council stalemate over which of 18 candidates should fill the seventh seat vacated after Tom Butt became Richmond’s mayor.
The RPA, a far-left progressive group that votes as a bloc, had hoped to elect one of its preferred candidates in order to have a majority on council.
Councilmember Nat Bates, a longtime foe of the RPA, praised Martinez for setting politics aside and saving the city a half-million dollars. Bates said he and Martinez had had discussions prior to Pimple’s appointment during which they both agreed to avoid a costly special election.
“Mr. Eduardo is a man beyond reproach,” Bates said. “He made a commitment that we would do a certain thing, and he didn’t back away.”
Butt congratulated Pimple after the swearing-in ceremony.
“I explained to Councilman Pimple that I had reserved for him the best seat; this is where I sat for 20 years,” the mayor said. “It has some very distinct advantages that I’m not going to share with you all tonight, but I did share with him.”
Pimple, who has been blind since age 10, earned a masters’ degree in English literature at Bombay University before heading to the U.S. in 1993 to study at Rutgers State University in New Jersey, according to India West, which published a thorough feature on the Indian American Tuesday.
After working as a software engineer he earned his law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law. The Mumbai native is also a former educator who taught at Mithibhai College in Mumbai and at Rutgers, and currently volunteers with the local WriterCoach Connection, the Richmond Police Activities League, and Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP).
He believes the key to crime reduction in Richmond is through education.
“There are a lot of lower-income people here who don’t have any hope,” Pimple told India West. “We have to turn them into someone who goes to college and has a vocation.”
Pimple was a city council regular and identifies as an independent, moderate Democrat, according to India West.
According to his application for the council seat, Pimple’s goals as a City Councilmember include:
- Working with the school district and other groups to implement solutions for improving student results.
- Creating more jobs with better outreach to businesses.
- Using sound reasoning skills to craft laws that address the concerns of all council members whenever possible.
- Respecting all other council members, and understanding that we all want very similar things for the people of Richmond.