Notebook: Two candidates drop out, one comes in amid shuffle in Virginia Beach City Council special elections

Ed. — This originally ran in the Aug. 9 print edition.


VIRGINIA BEACH — Within a day of each other, two people ended their runs in the special election to represent the Beach District seat on the Virginia Beach City Council.

Candidates Brandon Hutchins and Courtney Stowe withdrew by filing paperwork with the Virginia Beach Voter Registration & Elections Department on Thursday, Aug. 1, and Friday, Aug. 2, respectively.

If only for now, that leaves three candidates – including two people currently serving on the council – seeking the Beach District seat in the Tuesday, Nov. 5, special election. Candidates have until Friday, Aug. 16, to file paperwork to run.

Announced candidates are Richard “R.K.” Kowalewitch, a businessperson, and Councilmembers Guy Tower and Rosemary Wilson. Tower, a retired attorney, is serving a temporary appointment in the Beach District seat until the result of the special election is determined. Wilson, who works in real estate, currently holds an at-large seat on the council. Kowalewitch is the only candidate from last year’s Beach District race running this time.

The seat was vacated this spring after David Nygaard, who in 2018 narrowly defeated then-incumbent John Uhrin, was declared ineligible due to a residency issue. Nygaard and Uhrin have both said they are not running in the special election. Another candidate last year, John Coker, said he won’t run this year.

In a statement posted to social media, Hutchins said his exit from the campaign came after consulting with loved ones, and he called it “one of the toughest decisions of my life.” He said he plans to seek office on a council seat in next year’s elections.

“I will be using this time to get to know more of you while I continue to educate myself on the issues most important to our citizens,” he wrote. “In the meantime, I am throwing my support towards current Councilman Guy Tower and look forward to working with him in 2020.”

Stowe endorsed Wilson in a video posted to social media, and she thanked supporters and those she got to know while campaigning in recent months.

“I also proudly support Rosemary Wilson because she has the proven leadership that this city needs to keep Virginia Beach great and make it even better,” Stowe said while standing next to Wilson, who said she was “thrilled” to have the endorsement.

Comings and goings in political races are not all that uncommon, and these are early enough that they will not affect ballots or, potentially, election results. Last year, two candidates for local office withdrew after ballots had been printed. It happened in the Beach District race, in fact. Coker’s name stayed on the ballot after his withdrawal. In a race so close it was decided by hundreds of votes — however temporarily — and only after a recount, Coker got thousands of votes.

Notebook ran into Kowalewitch on Monday, Aug. 5, while he filed petitions with the registrar, and the candidate said he liked his odds should the race remain a three-person affair. He noted that Uhrin, a longtime incumbent, only managed a third of the vote total last year in the four-person race. And he directed Notebook to take down the following: “R.K. predicts there will be some people rushing to file at the 11th hour.”

Notebook transcribes. You decide.

Conrad Schesventer, who placed third among three candidates for City Council in the special election to represent the Centerville District last year, is in the process of completing paperwork to run in this year’s special election for the Rose Hall District seat. Some of it has been filed.

He would face Councilmember Michael Berlucchi, who was appointed to represent the seat until the result of the special election. The district seat became open this year after former Councilmember Shannon Kane, now the Republican candidate for the 21st Virginia House District, resigned because her family bought a house outside the Rose Hall District.

Schesventer, a chess coach who also works at an Oceanfront hotel, said he moved into the district in July with his parents, with whom he also lived in Centerville. The 32 year old said he could become the second-youngest person on the City Council, and he added that he hopes to focus upon issues that affect Millennials, as well as tackle flooding. 

The Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association Local 34 has endorsed the following candidates in the November election: Republican incumbent Bill DeSteph in the 8th Virginia Senate District, Republican challenger Shannon Kane in the 21st Virginia House District, Republican Rocky Holcomb in the 85th Virginia House District, Michael Berlucchi in the Rose Hall District on the Virginia Beach City Council and Rosemary Wilson in the Beach District on the Virginia Beach City Council. Brian Luciano, president of the PBA, told Notebook more endorsements may follow. Visit virginiabeachpba.com for more information about the association.

Email jhd@princessanneindy.com with suggestions for inclusion. The newspaper publishes every other week, so please send events well before publications dates. Items are published as space allows.

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