BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE
COURTHOUSE – Candidates John E. Coker and Pieri Burton are no longer seeking a seat on the Virginia Beach City Council on Election Day.
The candidates had made announcements of their withdrawals via social media or in interviews recently, but they didn’t immediately deliver that word to the Virginia Beach voter registrar, which can effect city voters and, potentially, the results in two City Council races. Ballots are printed, absentee ballots are mailed out and absentee in-person voting already is underway.
But the paperwork is now done and turned in.
More than a week after announcing his withdrawal, Coker turned in paperwork on Monday, Oct. 15, after saying plans to turn it in the previous Friday were thwarted by a power outage due to inclement weather. Burton turned his paperwork in of Thursday, Oct. 11. He could not be reached for comment, but confirmed during an interview in late September that he planned to leave the race.
The paperwork allowed the registrar to inform Virginia Beach voters that their candidacies are over because a needed form must be filled out first.
“Until a candidate officially tells us in writing, we can’t put any withdrawal notice up,” Donna Patterson, the city’s director of elections and general registrar, said on Thursday, Oct. 11.
“In writing is not that they say something to the newspaper,” Patterson added. “In writing is they tell us in writing.”
In the past, notices have been placed at polling locations to let people know someone has withdrawn. Patterson’s office has placed notices online and notices are also posted at all voting locations. Additionally, each voting booth will have a notification.
On Friday, Sept. 28, Burton told The Independent News he was no longer running and would support Tim Worst in the Princess Anne District race. Burton, Worst and Dr. Karen Beardslee Kwasny are challenging incumbent Barbara Henley. The district, geographically the largest in Virginia Beach, is the main coverage area of The Independent News.
Burton said he was leaving the race due to a family matter. He had intended to submit paperwork the following week.
On Saturday, Oct. 6, Coker told supporters in a video released via social media that he was dropping out to support Richard “R.K.” Kowalewitch in the Beach District race. They and fellow challenger David Nygaard face incumbent John Uhrin.
“I always knew a multi-candidate race for one seat on the City Council would only serve to help secure another term for the Beach District incumbent,” Coker said on the video.
“This is why, after careful consideration, I have decided to end my campaign for City Council,” he added.
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