Ed. — From the Sunday, July 18, print edition. An earlier version of this story appeared online on Friday, July 2.
COURTHOUSE — City Councilmember Jessica Abbott on Friday, July 2, announced her immediate resignation from her Kempsville District seat due to a health concern.
Abbott, who recently began her second term, was 27 years old when she was first elected to the City Council in 2016. She became the youngest candidate to win office in the city, and she defeated an incumbent, Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, to do it.
In a statement, Abbott thanked city staff and her colleagues on the City Council — and the citizens for allowing her the honor of serving. She did not want to discuss details of the medical concern, but said she needed to focus on her health and wellbeing.
“I realized I couldn’t give 100 percent to this job and 100 percent to my kids and to my family,” Abbott told reporters at City Hall, where she was joined by Mayor Bobby Dyer, who applauded her service to the city and the enthusiasm she brought to that work.
“I love doing this so much,” Abbott told reporters at City Hall, speaking not long after announcing her resignation, “and to me it felt like it wasn’t fair to ask the people of Virginia Beach and the people of Kempsville to depend on someone who couldn’t be here as much as I want to be here.”
Abbott said she had wanted to run for office since her childhood, and she hopes she will be able to return to public service in time.
“The timing was good then, and it worked out,” she said, speaking of her first election in 2016, “and I’m just really grateful for the time I’ve had. I hope I get to do it again.”
Abbott’s 2016 victory came at the start of a recent period of change on the City Council. Asked about this, Abbott prefaced her answer by saying all of her colleagues on the council are incredible people.
“I think it would be silly to say there isn’t change happening because there is,” Abbott said. “I don’t give myself any credit for that change, but I do think that we’re in a transition period as a city and as a country. To me, it’s exciting. I’ve always really welcomed change into my life, and I think the city should be excited. It’s just a natural process.
“It’s like when we talk about development in the city,” she said. “There’s development, then there’s infill and there’s redevelopment. I think some of what is happening now is just, it’s redevelopment. We’re reinventing.”
This past week, the city issued a call for citizens who are registered voters residing in the district to apply for a temporary appointment to serve in the vacant seat. Information about that process is available online via www.vbgov.com/hottopics.
There is some uncertainty about whether a special election for the seat can be held in November due to a federal lawsuit in which a judge found the city’s present local voting system is illegal.
“There is a possibility the person we would choose to fill the temporary vacancy may be longer depending upon what the court might say,” Dyer said on Tuesday, July 13.
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