Editorial: The Virginia Beach public servant’s guide to where you live

[Vladyslav Danilin/Shutterstock]

Do you either currently serve in or want to represent a certain area of Virginia Beach, but aren’t sure whether you live there? Consider some helpful clues to guide your decisions.


VIRGINIA BEACH — It’s been quite a moment for local office holders, what with all the comings and goings — and the lease signings, boxing stuff up and moving. Here is a quick refresher about the recent residency issues: 

The Rose Hall seat on the Virginia Beach School Board is in question after Joel McDonald acknowledged this month that he’d moved outside the district amid his term of office. He’s fighting to keep the seat, arguing in court papers, essentially, that it was okay to move out of the district after taking office. He recently moved back. A court is scheduled to consider the matter in April.

A panel of judges scrapped David Nygaard’s recent election win in the Beach District of the Virginia Beach City Council because the panel found he moved into the district last year only to run. The city is working toward filling that slot temporarily, and there will be a special election for the seat this coming November. 

Just to be clear, Nygaard acknowledges moving into the district, and the circumstances are different than the ones involving McDonald. Nygaard may run again in the special election. 

The McDonald matter is not resolved, but it seems change could happen in a second office.

The city’s hybrid system of at-large seats and district seats can seem confusing, and it is not universally beloved, but this is the system by which we pick our local leaders. 

Consider common sense: 

You can live anywhere within the city and run for and represent an at-large seat. 

You should live within a specific district when you run to represent it. 

Finally, voters rightly expect a public servant to continue to live within the district they represent while they are representing it. 

The Independent News offers the following helpful discussion about figuring out where you live. Since the city now seeks applicants in the Beach District, this is specific to someone who seeks appointment to or wants to run in that district.

The same idea, such as it is, might apply in Rose Hall or any other district.

None of what follows will hold up in court.

Q: Say, where do I live, anyway?

A: Great place to start. You live in your abode, your home, your domicile.

Q: Of course. Like a camel.

A: That’s dromedary. Domicile is pretty much just another word for home. 

Q: Oh.

A: The point is that you really live in a place within the district and not in some other place outside the district. The place could be a house, a condo, an apartment. Your home.

Q: So I live there?

A: Yes.

Q: How will I ever figure that out?

A: Maybe look for clues. You get mail in your name. Cereal in the kitchen suits either your tastes or health needs. Clothes in the closet fit, aside from what you keep for either nostalgia or motivational purposes. There is a toothbrush, and it smells familiar. 

Q: So can I just carry a toothbrush around the district?

A: That does not actually establish residency. Maybe compare your address to a map of the district you mean to represent. If you don’t live there, don’t run there.

Q: What if I don’t have a toothbrush?

A: Please get a toothbrush.

Q: So I live in my home, but my home is in Maryland. Can I be appointed to the Beach District and then run in the special election?

A: Maryland is a whole other state. It is not contained within the district. So no.

Q: But say I live in Maryland, and I vacation at the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach. Can I run for office in the Beach District if I bring my toothbrush into town when I visit, stand on Atlantic Avenue and brush furiously?

A: You still live in Maryland, in this example. The Beach District is not in Maryland. 

Q: What if I am from Chesapeake?

A: Closer, but no.

Q: Why does it hurt when I chew?

A: Please get a toothbrush.

Q: And floss?

A: Recommended. Not qualifying.

Q: Can I rent a camel and ride it on the Boardwalk to establish my residence?

A: No.

Q: So I’ll just bury a toothbrush in the sand at the Oceanfront. Now I’m a local.

A: Please do not do that. Just think of home as the place you go to an awful lot because you live there. And, if other people live there, they do not become alarmed when you enter. 

Q: Go on.

A: Or there may be a dog there, and the dog knows you. Try to use clues to establish where it is you live, then determine whether where you live is within the district. 

Q: Befriend a dog that lives in the Beach District. Got it. 

A: Good gravy.

Q: I’m in. Let’s vote on a budget.

A: Maybe you should run in Chesapeake.

Q: Nope, it’s the Beach District for me. I want to get appointed, and then run. And I don’t just want to run in any old election. I want to run in a special election. 

A: In this case, special does not mean better. They don’t issue you a pony if you win.

Q: A pony with a hump?

A: They don’t give you a camel, either.

Q: You’re fake news.

A: Special means —

Q: Fake news. 

A: This conversation is invented, granted, but we were going for satire based upon local current events.

Q: Is that what you are doing, fake news? 

A: Moving on.

Q: So I actually do live in the Beach District, and I get temporarily appointed or elected to represent the Beach District, but then I up and move to Blackwater after I’m elected, and, if how I moved comes to light, then I move back real quick. Sound good?

A: The courts will try to sort that type of thing out in April. A reasonable person might simply ask themself whether voters who elected them and are paying them to do a specific job want them to be from and continue to live within the district they represent.

Q: But that sounds reasonable, like I’d be applying some kind integrity to my choices as a person who wants to hold public office.

A: Just live in the district, is all. If the bar were any lower, it would be buried in the Oceanfront sand.

Q: Just like a Marylander’s toothbrush.

© 2019 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC


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