Berlucchi wins special election in Rose Hall District to keep seat on Virginia Beach City Council

Virginia Beach City Councilmember Michael Berlucchi, who won a special election to keep the Rose Hall District seat to which he was appointed this spring, greets voters outside Rosemont Forest Elementary School early on Election Day. [Bill Tiernan/For The Independent News]

VIRGINIA BEACH — Michael Berlucchi will continue to represent the Rose Hall District on the Virginia Beach City Council in the year to come.

Berlucchi handily defeated challenger C. Conrad Schesventer II, according to unofficial returns from the state election department. Berlucchi quickly pulled ahead when the results began to come in on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and won with approximately 77 percent of the total vote.

 “I’m very proud to say that together we won this election,” said Berlucchi, speaking to supporters who had attended his election night party at Il Giardino Ristorante on Virginia Beach Boulevard.

“I spent most of my life here, and I never imagined in a million years that I would have the opportunity to serve our city on our City Council,” Berlucchi said, “But because of you and because of the voters of Virginia Beach, I do have that opportunity.”

Berlucchi has been a member of the City Council since May, when he was appointed to the Rose Hall District seat to replace Shannon Kane, who had resigned shortly before moving out of the district with her family.

This was the Berlucchi’s first time seeking elected office. His campaign focused on prioritizing flooding issues, supporting public schools and working toward a city that is diverse and full of economic opportunity. 

His message was popular with Virginia Beach voters.

Jim Leary, a Berlucchi supporter who has lived in Virginia Beach for over 40 years, was pleased to see an openly gay candidate run for City Council.

“I support all the things that he loves and promises for the city,” Leary said.

“I always see him out in the community, even when he wasn’t running for this office,” said Tiffany Williams, another Berlucchi supporter.

“I support anyone who is trying to help everyone,” Williams added.

Before joining the City Council, Berlucchi was president of Hampton Roads Pride and served as a member of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission. He currently works as community and government relations manager at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

Schesventer, Berlucchi’s opponent, works at a hotel in Oceanfront and had previously run for City Council. His campaign for the Rose Hall District seat centered upon increasing the availability of public transportation in Virginia Beach and fighting flooding and sea level rise problems by lobbying for increased funding from Richmond and Washington D.C.

After the election result became clear, Schesventer in a statement posted to social media compared his campaign’s modest funds to those in Berlucchi’s coffers.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Berlucchi had spent $60,149 through the most recent reporting period compared to $1,786 spent by Schesventer, and Berlucchi had and $19,000 on hand as of late October.

Schesventer noted that he spent about $4,450 in all, or roughly 18 cents per vote earned. The results of the election did not discourage Schesventer from running for office in the future.

“I go to sleep tonight already dreaming of what to begin building tomorrow,” he wrote. 

The special election was held to select a candidate to serve for the remainder of the four year term that Kane was elected to in 2016. Next year, Virginia Beach voters will elect a Rose Hall candidate to a full term on City Council. Berlucchi intends to run for reelection.

“This is great news,” Berlucchi said. “We get to do it all again next year.”

© 2019 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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