Elections: Dyer, Centerville District councilmember, bests Davenport to become next Virginia Beach mayor

Bobby Dyer and his wife Trish share an emotional moment as they realize he will win the Virginia Beach mayor’s race on Nov. 6, 2018, at the Imperial Palace restaurant in Virginia Beach. Dyer and his wife spent election night having a quiet dinner here, with a handful of few supporters. [Vicki Cronis-Nohe/For The Independent News]
Ed. — This story ran in the Nov. 9 print edition, prior to recounts in some council races that changed vote totals but not outcomes. This story was archived online on Dec. 29.


VIRGINIA BEACH — Bobby Dyer, who has served four terms on the City Council representing the Centerville District, is the next mayor of Virginia Beach.

Dyer defeated City Councilmember Ben Davenport, who is serving his first term holding an at-large seat, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, during the special election to complete the unexpired term of former Mayor Will Sessoms. Unofficial returns showed Dyer won 51.8 percent of the vote to Davenport’s 47.7 percent.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Dyer told reporters on Election Night, while awaiting the results of absentee voting but after Davenport had called to concede.

Dyer said he is grateful to the voters. The health care professional and former college professor who also served in the U.S. Marine Corps said he was proud to be the first veteran to serve as mayor since Virginia Beach voters began electing them directly.

The mayor is one of 11 members of the City Council and the ceremonial head of government. As such, Dyer will lead a council that unquestionably is changing with new members and some departing faces after a crowded, sometimes bitter political season. He may be sworn in as mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

“I intend to keep my promise to build positive bridges, not only on the City Council, which is going to have a new chemistry given some of the changes,” Dyer said, “but also my commitment to the public that I’m going to … honor my pledges of a level playing field and work collaboratively and really set the tone for civility.”

Dyer said he hoped Davenport would continue to work with the city to bring high tech businesses here, an issue that was central to the Davenport candidacy. “He’s a young man with a very bright future,” Dyer said.

Davenport declined to comment, but he thanked loved ones, supporters and citizens on Wednesday, Nov. 7, via social media.

“The people have spoken,” Davenport wrote. “Congratulations, Bobby Dyer. You will make a great mayor. I stand behind you.”

Davenport did not seek reelection to his at-large seat on the council so he could run for mayor, and Dyer is vacating his Centerville seat. Close races meant it was not possible to determine the ultimate winners in three races because provisional ballots still were being counted, but here’s where things stood as this edition went to press on Friday, Nov. 9:

Aaron Rouse, a political newcomer who once played in the National Football League and is a consultant, was the top vote getter among six candidates in a race to fill two available at-large seats. City Councilmember John Moss, an incumbent, had the second most votes in the race after absentee returns came in, but Dee Oliver, a member of the Planning Commission, was about 360 votes behind Moss before provisional ballots had been counted. About 900 provisional ballots were counted late Friday, Nov. 9. Oliver picked up 71 provisional votes, but Moss gained 52 and remained ahead and win the second seat in the at-large race.

Interim Mayor Louis Jones, who was seeking re-election in the Bayside District, came out ahead of challenger Brad Martin, a civil engineer who previously served on the City Council, by about 500 votes after provisional votes were counted.

Challenger David Nygaard, a jeweler and entrepreneur, seemed poised to upset incumbent John Uhrin in the Beach District. After provisional votes were counted, Nygaard led the incumbent by more than 200 votes. A third candidate, Richard “R.K.” Kowalewitch was well behind. A fourth, John E. Coker, had officially withdrawn from the race, but he still was a factor in this especially tight race. Coker withdrew after ballots were printed and early in-person absentee voting was underway, asking supporters to back Kowalewitch, yet Coker won nearly 15,900 votes, or 10.9 percent of the sum total votes cast in the race. 

Sabrina Wooten, a chaplain with the Virginia Beach Police Department, won decisively in the special election to fill the unexpired term of Dyer in the Centerville District, winning 61.9 percent of the vote and defeating candidates Eric Wray II and Conrad Schesventer II.

In the Lynnhaven District, incumbent Jim Wood, a businessperson currently serving as the vice mayor, defeated challengers Susanne Henderson, a realtor, and Mike Maskell, a patent examiner and attorney.

Incumbent Barbara Henley will serve the Princess Anne District again after defeating Tim Worst of Lago Mar and Dr. Karen Beardslee Kwasny of Ashville Park. A fourth candidate, the Rev. Pieri Burton, dropped out of the race though his name remained on the ballot.

After greeting supporters at his election night party, Ben Davenport checks on precinct returns at Hot Tuna restaurant in Virginia Beach, VA, on Nov. 6, 2018.

© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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