The local candidates in Virginia Beach races; Burns stays on ballot after petition review

Ed. — Cheryl Turpin has announced that she will not run for City Council in the Rose Hall District since this originally appeared in print in the Sunday, June 21, print edition. This is an archived version of the initial notebook.


VIRGINIA BEACH — Okay, buckle in. What follows are candidates who have been certified to run and appear on the November ballot for local Virginia Beach races. There is a mighty big bunch of candidates for the local races this year. Also, something about electing a president, but let us stay blissfully local here.

First off, Mayor Bobby Dyer, who won a special election after former Mayor Will Sessoms’  2018 resignation in the middle of a term, seeks reelection – and his own first full four-year term – after an eventful two years serving in the office. 

He faces two challengers, Jody Wagner, a businessperson who served in the administrations of two Democratic governors, and businessperson Richard “R.K.” Kowalewitch, who has run for local office before, including two unsuccessful runs against Sessoms in 2012 and 2016. A story about that race appears on Page 14.

In City Council races:

A year after unsuccessfully seeking the Beach District seat, incumbent City Councilmember Rosemary Wilson seeks reelection to an at-large seat. She faces three challengers, Brandon Hutchins, who works in healthcare and co-owns a salon, Lucia Owen, a digital marketing manager, and Nadine Paniccia, a vice president for an Oceanfront resort group.

City Councilmember Sabrina Wooten, who won a special election in 2018 to represent the Centerville District seat Dyer resigned to run for mayor, faces a challenge by Eric V. Wray II, a funeral home director she defeated in the special election.

City Councilmember Jessica Abbott seeks her second term representing the Kempsville District, but she will need to defeat two challengers to do so. She faces Michael W. Anderson, who works in architectural and commercial sales for a brick supply company, and Bill Dale.

City Councilmember Michael Berlucchi, who won a special election last year to represent the Rose Hall District seat after former City Councilmember Shannon Kane resigned the seat because her family moved, may have one of the more closely watched races this year. Berlucchi, who was appointed to the seat before winning the special election this year faces three challengers. They are Conrad Schesventer, who works at an Oceanfront hotel and who Berlucchi defeated last year, construction contractor Garry Hubbard and former state Del. Cheryl Turpin, an educator who filed her paperwork to run on Tuesday, June 9, the final filing date. A story about this race appears on the opposite page.

For School Board:

Six candidates seek two at-large seat on the ballot, including incumbents Beverly Anderson and Victoria Manning. The four challengers are college student Justin Burns, podiatrist Jeffrey “Doc” Feld, consultant Lauren Logan and technology professional services consultant Matthias Telkamp.

In the Centerville District, incumbent School Board Member Trenace Riggs faces a challenge by Luis Cortes, a media executive who owns a radio station.

In the Kempsville District, incumbent School Board Member Dan Edwards, who served for many years as the board chairperson, may face a challenge by Jennifer Franklin, the branch manager for a mortgage company. More on that in a moment.

And in the Rose Hall District, incumbent School Board Member Jessica Owens, who won a special election this past year to represent the district, faces a challenge by Joanna Moran, a maintenance supervisor at a state correctional facility, as Owens seeks her first full term in the seat.

Justin Burns is a candidate for the Virginia Beach School Board. [The Princess Anne Independent News]
Candidates, always get more signatures than you need.

A lot more.

In the days after the Tuesday, June 9, filing deadline for candidates, Justin Burns, who is seeking an at-large seat on the School Board, seemed at risk of losing a spot on the ballot for lack of enough signatures on his nominating petitions. 

Local officials initially found 119 names that met requirements as valid signatures from 143 names submitted by the campaign.

The threshold is 125 to qualify.

Most of those disqualified were because the voters could not be identified, according to an appeal filed by Burns on Monday, June 15.

However, after the campaign provided more information about some signatures, the Virginia Beach Electoral Board on Friday, June 19, determined Burns had six more signatures. Just enough.

Board members Lauralee Grimm, the vice chairperson, and Tim Barrow, the board secretary, made the decision during a brief meeting. Chairperson Al Ablowich was not present.

“I’m very grateful for all of the hard work and consideration that was put into this process to make this outcome positive,” Burns said during an interview following the meeting.

During the meeting, Virginia Beach Voter Registration & Elections Director Donna Patterson noted that her office recommends getting a lot more signatures than a candidate needs to get on the ballot. Some just don’t check out.

“Our office always says 200 to 225, and the reason is a lot of people who sign petitions will sometimes not meet the criteria,” Patterson said.

It is not yet certain whether Jennifer Franklin, a political newcomer who aims to challenge longtime incumbent School Board Member Dan Edwards, will appear on the November ballot in the race. 

The candidate did not file a statement of economic interest on time, according to the Virginia Beach Voter Registration & Elections Office, which Franklin in an interview said was an oversight.

“We’ve requested an exception for that deadline,” said Franklin, who added that she thought it had been filed.

The state Board of Elections is scheduled to consider whether to grant the request on Tuesday, July 7, in Richmond.

“Either way, we’re definitely running, Franklin said.

If she doesn’t make the ballot, Franklin said she will launch a write-in campaign for the seat.

One of the three people seeking to be the GOP nominee to face U.S. Sen. Mark Warner in the fall has corrected an incorrect claim that a nonprofit endorsed his campaign. Thomas Speciale of Woodbridge has been criticized for claiming the Virginia Prayer Caucus endorsed his campaign, but the nonprofit did not.

“I want to apologize to everyone,” Speciale wrote in a social media post on Thursday, June 18. “I received the personal endorsement of Rev. Randy Mathis, State Director [of the Virginia] Congressional Prayer Caucus. The organization is not allowed to make political endorsements.”

The candidate listed the endorsement in responses to questions published by The Independent News in our most recent print edition and online. Daniel Gade and Alissa Baldwin are in the running, too. 

Primary Day is Tuesday, June 23.

Notebook runs announcements of political endorsements, fundraisers and events as space allows at no cost. Reach with submissions and tips.

© 2020 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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