After filing mixup, independent candidate in 81st Virginia House District seeks extension to remain on ballot

Jeff Staples [Courtesy]

VIRGINIA BEACH — A paperwork issue could keep an independent candidate running in the 81st Virginia House District off the ballot.

Jeff Staples, a mechanic from Chesapeake, aims to challenge state Del. Barry Knight, R-81st District, this year. Staples unsuccessfully challenged Knight in 2015 while running as a Green Party candidate.

This year, it seemed Knight, a farmer and businessperson from Back Bay, would face both Staples and Democrat Jeffrey Feld, a podiatrist. The 81st District includes parts of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, including rural communities and much of the main coverage area of The Independent News.

Knight and Feld qualified for the ballot, according to Andrea Gaines, a spokesperson for the state elections department. However, Gaines wrote in an email on Thursday, June 10, that Staples did not qualify for the ballot because he did not submit a required statement of economic interest.

This came as news to Staples. Two days earlier, he had announced via social media that his campaign had made it onto the ballot.

Staples said he had turned in his statement of economic interest to the office of Mary Lynn Pinkerman, the voter registrar in Chesapeake, on Wednesday, June 2. Staples said he had asked Pinkerman whether he needed to give it to state election officials, but, via email, she said Staples just needed to give it to her.

“It’s frustrating,” Staples said. “I’m going to be appealing.”

Pinkerman on Friday, June 11, confirmed that Staples had filed the form with her office.

“We’re seeing if we can get that worked out,” Pinkerman said.

Staples is seeking an extension from the state for the form in question, and he said on Friday, June 11, that it may take a few days for the situation to be resolved.

Instructions for candidates listed at the state elections website say General Assembly candidates who are not incumbents are required to file a statement of economic interest form with the state elections department, not their local registrar.

On Tuesday, June 1, the state released a notice reminding candidates nominated by non-primary and independent candidates needed to file paperwork with the state by Tuesday, June 8.

Robert Brink, chairperson of the Virginia Elections Board, said in the statement that “there is no assurance the board will grant an extension.”

However, they have done so in the past.

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