Meet Vinay Pimple, Richmond’s newest city councilmember

Richmond's newest city councilmember, Vinay Pimple, before taking his oath of office. (Photo by Faviola Leyva)

Richmond's newest city councilmember, Vinay Pimple, before taking his oath of office. (Photo by Faviola Leyva)

Sitting patiently in the front row, Vinay Pimple (pronounced Pim-PLAY) waited to be sworn into office as Richmond’s newest city councilmember at the council’s March 3 meeting. “I, Vinay Pimple, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California,” Pimple said as he took the oath of office.

After being sworn in, Pimple took his seat on the council with the help of an assistant, since he is blind. “I explained to Councilman Pimple that I had reserved for him the best seat — this is where I sat for twenty years,” Richmond Mayor Tom Butt told the crowd as Pimple took his seat. (Before becoming mayor, Butt had served as a city councilmember and vice mayor since 1995.)

“I promise you that I’ll do my best to promote good governance, which I see as better financial oversight, more transparency, more accountability and more efficient delivery of services,” said Pimple, addressing the audience. “I am disabled and that means that I have a special place in my heart for people who have had to deal with a lot of difficulty.… And to you I say that I’ll do everything I can to help you overcome those difficulties and to make your hopes and dreams real.”

Pimple has not let his disability define him. At age 47, he is an accomplished attorney and an avid volunteer in his community. Before coming to Richmond, Pimple spent the first quarter of his life in India. There he went to college and completed his master’s program in English literature. In addition, he participated in theater plays. “It was a fun time,” said Pimple, referring to his time as an actor. Pimple, who has been blind since age 10, said he would try not to forget his lines onstage, even though he wasn’t able to study the lines on paper. “That’s just part of being blind,” said Pimple. “You’re the only one that knows the line… [so] you hope for the best.”

Pimple came to the United States in 1993 to pursue a PhD in English literature at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He worked as an English teacher at the university, as part of the program’s requirements. But Pimple left, since he had no assurance that he would be able to teach after that. He then made the move to computer science, because as a child he had always enjoyed learning math, and worked as a software engineer for Verizon.

In 2002, Pimple moved to California to earn his law degree from UC Berkeley. (This caused Butt to joke during Pimple’s swearing in, “I’m just curious, how many people in the audience have a law degree and a license to practice law in California? My guess is that’s probably a lot harder than being on the city council.”)

“I have always wanted to do law,” said Pimple in a phone interview, when asked what influenced him to switch from computer science. Pimple became an active member of the State Bar of California in Nov. 2014, and plans to start his law practice in immigration law.

Pimple moved to Richmond in 2010 and has been a volunteer in the city’s community ever since, working with organizations such as Richmond Trees, the Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP) and WriterCoach Connection, a program that operates throughout the Bay Area to help students develop better writing techniques. “If there’s something you can do, why not do it?” Pimple asked. “I do like to donate platelets — I tend to do that a lot. I try to do that once a month.” Pimple has been a platelet donor — infusions of these types of clotting blood cells are used to prevent massive blood loss and blood vessel leakage — for about three years. He says he enjoys going to the American Red Cross with his wife, who donates blood.

Pimple takes the oath of office during last Tuesday's city council meeting. (Photo by Faviola Leyva)

Pimple takes the oath of office during last Tuesday’s city council meeting. (Photo by Faviola Leyva)

Now Pimple hopes to have a bigger effect as a city councilmember. “I do think it’s an interesting job,” Pimple said. “You can’t do these types of jobs unless you’re interested in politics.”

Pimple was appointed to the council’s vacant seat during its February 24 meeting from a field of 18 candidates who applied for the seat and were then nominated by a sitting councilmember. The seat was open due to Butt’s ascension to mayor. Butt, along with Councilmen Jael Myrick, Nat Bates and Eduardo Martinez, all voted in favor of Pimple that night. “From our conversations, I sensed that his experience as a blind person growing up in India helped him to appreciate the difficulties of individuals who were disadvantaged,” Martinez wrote in an email to Richmond Confidential, adding he believes that Pimple will be able to handle the responsibilities that come with being a councilmember.

Councilwomen Jovanka Beckles and Gayle McLaughlin were the only ones to abstain from voting for Pimple to fill the vacant seat on the council. “While I abstained on his appointment (given my primary support for two other candidates), I feel confident that Vinay’s talents and commitment will add to our positive, progressive direction in Richmond,” McLaughlin wrote in an email to Richmond Confidential.

Pimple plans on putting in hard work in his new position as councilmember. Two of his main priorities will be education and working to understand the minority groups that are a part of Richmond, he said. Pimple said he wants to strengthen the relationship between the West Contra Costa Unified School District and the city. He values education and believes that it can make a difference in young lives, especially for young people growing up in Richmond, where crime is a problem.

June Pangelinan is the Richmond volunteer recruitment coordinator for WriterCoach Connection and has worked with Pimple for three years, since the program began operating a branch in Richmond. “He just steps up. He steps up all the time for the organization,” said Pangelinan when describing Pimple’s work ethic. She also added that in addition to volunteering as a coach, Pimple has also helped in the recruitment of volunteers for the program.

When asked if he would continue to be a writing coach after being appointed as city councilmember, Pimple said the thought of not continuing to volunteer did not even occur to him. “I think that that’s one amazing thing about our city,” said Pimple of WriterCoach Connection and other non-profit organizations that operate in Richmond.

Pimple also wants to connect with Richmond’s minorities and ensure to them that he will be a resource to them. “Part of what I want to do is to make sure that I am one of those resources… [and] to make sure to get what the city has promised,” Pimple said.

Pimple also wants to collaborate with city businesses and the Chamber of Commerce to find out how they can attract more residents, shoppers and business owners to Richmond. He plans on working with the city staff to find out what Richmond attributes are attractive to them, and to figure out opportunities to bring in more business.

Pimple also said that the one thing he wants others to understand about him is that he has no issue with the word “blind” — as long as it’s used correctly. Pimple said it’s fine when people use the word “blind” to describe someone who is unable to see, but if people use the word “blind” to describe someone as ignorant or insensitive, then that’s a problem.

“I look forward to working with all the members on this council, [and] all the engaged citizens here so that we can keep moving forward towards a brighter future for all of us,” he said.

 

38 Comments

  1. Tek Sandoval

    So proud to have Mr. Pimple as our newest council member. He appears to be a person who knows how to work with others to get the job done. His spirit of volunteerism is an inspiration for us all as well. Best wishes!

  2. Sankhe Ganesh Kaliram

    My Brother , I proud of u and i hope y ou can India is Great.

  3. Rajendra Sankhe

    I know my dear Vinay will prove himself as best council member due to his nature , hardwork and understanding. I am feeling proud to be his brother-in-law. Really we all are very happy for him in India. Keep it up. Jony , his wife is also a great and supports him all the time.

    • Ninad patil

      Hi mr. rajendra
      my self ninad patil..just want to know you were referring yourself as brother in law, can u tell me Mr vinay pimple belongs to which village/ hometown, I myself belongs from boisar, taluka .palghar. I have share info on whts up regarding Mr vinay for accomplishing such a huge position. what is Mr vinay father name. pls share this info..on my email id .. warm regards. ninad patil

  4. I’m confident that Vinay will bring the same inspiring vision to the City Council as he has brought to his students in our WriterCoach Connection program. He’s a splendid addition to Richmond’s city governance!

  5. Kathleen Hallam

    Having known Vinay through WriterCoach Connection, I am so pleased that he now has a voice in city decisions. He has experience in the world of privilege and in the world of need.

  6. Harshal Pimpale

    Feeling proud and honoured.I remember the words of Helen keler that best thing nither be seen nor listen but feels in the heart.Always be proud of our motherland and last but not the list this is not the end of the road,it’s just a begining.

  7. Shashikant Sitaram Pimple, Gundavali

    Hearty Congratulations!!
    Mr. Vinay Vaman Pimple
    Proud of You, Best luck !

  8. Hearty Congratulations to u n we are very proud of u here in india. Good luck to you as you move onto the next stage in your life. Without a doubt, you will continue to have success in all areas!

  9. Subodh Sankhe

    Proud of you Mr. Vinay Pimple.
    Subodh Sankhe – Boisar

  10. Rachana Sankhe- Ingle

    Really , very proud moment for all of us.
    all the very best MR. Pimple

    Regards,
    Rachana Sankhe- Ingle

  11. Ritvik Patil

    Congratulations.

  12. Akshata Pimple

    Very proud of u Mr.Pimple!!! Keep up d good work and make all the ‘PIMPLE’ more proud!!!

  13. Mukesh Pimple

    Hearty Congratulations to u n we are very proud of u here in india. BHAU

  14. Geeta Anil Pimple, Gundavali

    Proud of You Mr. Vinay Pimple. Congratulations! Go ahead. My Best wishes.

  15. sharad wade - Tembhi, Virar

    Congrats. Sir we are proud of vanjari is in commanding position in america who controlls the we hole world.best of luck.

  16. Jyotsna Wade - Gujrathi , Tembhi, Mimbai

    Congratulations Mr. Vinay Pimple. Proud of you..Best wishes for your future endeavors..

  17. G. Moon

    Mr. Pimple is an inspiration. He has already accomplished so much and the fact that he is willing to put his experience and enthusiasm into our city speaks well of him. I wish him great success. Thank you!

  18. viraj Sankhe

    Heartly, congratulation to u.we are very proud of u.Best wishes for ur new journey.

  19. vishwanath malve

    Dear Vinay

    Congratulations!

    Hi, This is Vishwanath from Mumbai. I was with you in Parle College with your sister Usha. I feel proud to hear about you.

    Regard

  20. raju desai

    Congratulations buddy. This is just the beginning. Many more success stories to be achieved. God Bless

  21. Usha

    Hi Vinay ,we all are so proud of you dear my school staff , relatives ,friends conveyed you a big congrats Keep it up . .We are getting so many calls from our friends and relatives to congratulate us .Thank you so much for making us feel so Proud .Your interviews were really good . The mayor spoke so good about you that’s so great . Actualy needless to say Try to keep up the expectations by doing good hard work .Love you dear bro.

  22. Milan Pendse

    Hi Vinay,

    Hearty Congratulation!!!

    I am MilanPendse, Parle college friend, may be you must remeber me. Really it is nice to hear about you, All the Best

    Regards,

    Milan Pendse

  23. kirit godani

    Congrats to vinay. Proud of u dear . U were my classmate in st thomas high school n we shared the same bench. Bravo. God bless u

  24. Janet Raj

    You made our high school proud especially our batch, wishing you success!!

  25. Shrirang Mohare

    Hearty Congratulations Vinay, upon this achievement.
    We, the re-union members of St.Thomas High School, Goregaon E, 1975 Old SSC Batch, are proud of you.

  26. Salil Parkar

    Hearty Congratulations Vinay and tons of best wishes from the St. Thomas High School & the Batch of 1983.

  27. Sachin Rele

    Hi Vinay

    I have seen you in your younger days , highly aware of the situation and sensitive to the environment . Your playful and helping nature sets you apart. you are an enabler today spread the good work Feel very proud of you dear friend.

    Warm Regards
    Sachin Rele

  28. H.T.DESAI

    I AM VERY HAPPY AND PROUD OF YOU.I WAS VERY CLOSE TO YOUR DAD WHEN HE WAS IN NIRLON BUT LOST CONTACT WITH HIM SINCE 1990.HOPE HE IS FINE.MY SON GAURANG FORWARDED THIS TO ME-HE WAS IN YOUR AGE GROUP-KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND GOD BE WITH YOU IN ALL YOUR ENDEAVORS.

  29. Vinay Pimple

    I just read all of your comments, and am very touched by your kindness and affection for me. Yes, I remember all of you from Nirlon, St. Thomas, and from Parle College. I don’t know everyone from our Vanjari community who has commented here, but I am grateful for all of your best wishes. I will work hard to help the people of Richmond, and try to justify your faith and the faith that our city council placed in me when they appointed me.

  30. anuradha aglave dhavalikar

    Congratulations vinay and tons of best wishes

  31. Eswaran Krishnan

    Hi, Vinay,

    Congratulations. I wish you the very best.

    Best wishes,
    Eswaran

  32. Namrata hate(nirlon)

    Proud of u vinay….wishing u the best in all that u do.hope you achieve more.congrats once again.

Comments are closed.