VIRGINIA BEACH – The Rev. Pieri Burton, a pastor from Strawbridge and a candidate for City Council in the Princess Anne District, is dropping out of the race.
Burton today told The Independent News he is ending his campaign due to a family issue that took priority. Burton said he will endorse fellow candidate Tim Worst of Lago Mar and work to help him in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, election.
“I like it that he’s not a politician,” Burton said during a telephone interview this afternoon, adding that Worst is not beholden to anyone but the citizens. “That’s what you want to look for when you support someone.”
Burton, active in his ministry and volunteering with youth, said he will remain a presence in the community. He serves as associate pastor of Christian Way Ministries, which this year expanded significantly to a location at Newtown Plaza. He also works as a real estate sales agent.
His departure is the latest wrinkle in the Princess Anne District race, which at one point had five candidates angling for the seat before David Fowler, a Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office sergeant and husband of state Del. Kelly Fowler, dropped out in May shortly after announcing his bid to run. David Fowler backed another candidate, Dr. Karen Beardslee Kwasny.
Challengers Kwasny and Worst remain to face long-serving City Councilmember Barbara Henley, who has represented the area for much of the past four decades.
Henley has not faced so many candidates in an election contest since 1978, when she came to office by toppling incumbent Floyd Waterfield Jr. in a field of three people seeking the old Pungo Borough seat.
The Virginia Beach Voter Registrar’s Office had not received paperwork confirming Burton’s exit from the race. Burton said he would submit the paperwork next week.
Ballots have been printed, absentee ballots sent out and in-person absentee voting is underway in Virginia Beach.
However, such an announcement is not unprecedented. In the past, notices have been placed at polling locations to alert voters when a candidate has withdrawn from a race, according to the registrar’s office.
Worst, reached by telephone today, said he and Burton had discussed Burton’s decision in recent days.
“I told him I appreciate his time and willingness to support me,” Worst said. “He’s got a lot of people out there who support him. He’s a super nice guy. I just happen to be running against him.”
Burton said he and Worst were so likeminded that he invited Worst to his campaign kickoff event — and Worst accepted.
“Him showing up to my campaign party, that showed me everything I needed to know about him,” Burton said.
“We’ll just continue with the campaign,” Henley said, when a reporter called and informed her Burton would leave the race.
Kwasny, also reached by phone, offered: “Our campaign for change has all the energy in this election. Our support grows daily, and we will win in November.”
© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC