Gov. Ralph Northam today asked the General Assembly to move the May 5 local and special elections to Nov. 3, on the same day as the 2020 November general election.
He has also requested that absentee ballots that have already been cast be thrown away. Those voters would have to vote again in November. Elected officials whose terms are set to expire in the meantime will keep serving until their successors are elected in November.
In Loudoun, that action would push back elections in Hamilton, Lovettsville, Middleburg, Purcellville and Round Hill, where election officials had been encouraging residents to cast absentee ballots. Currently, there are 28 candidates on the ballot across Loudoun’s towns, including five mayoral candidates and 23 Town Council.
Northam also exercised his own authority to reschedule primaries, pushing them back two weeks from June 9 to June 23.
“As other states have shown, conducting an election in the middle of this global pandemic would bring unprecedented challenges and potential risk to voters and those who work at polling places across the Commonwealth,”Northam stated. “Making these decisions now will help election officials prepare and implement the necessary changes. This is about protecting the health and safety of Virginians during this pandemic and ensuring our citizens can make their voices heard in a safe, fair, and uniform manner.”
Attorney General Mark Herring supported the request.
“Free and fair elections are at the core of our democracy and no Virginian should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote,” Herring stated.
In Hamilton, the terms of Vice Mayor Kenneth Wine and Councilmen Matthew Clark and John Unger will expire in June. Running for those seats are Wine and newcomers Elizabeth Gaucher and Sofia Kesari, along with Greg Wilmoth, who served as mayor from 2010 to 2014. Those three seats on the dais have terms that expire in June 2024. Councilwoman Catherine Salter will also be on the ballot for a special election, running for a seat with a term that ends June 2022.
In Lovettsville, the terms of first-term Mayor Nate Fontaine, Vice Mayor Jim McIntyre and Councilmen Mike Dunlap and Buchanan Smith will expire in June. All of them, except for McIntyre, will be on the ballot, along with newcomers David Earl, Sheryl Frye, Joy Pritz and Kenneth Tannenbaum. The mayor’s term will expire in June 2022 and the council terms will expire June 2024.
In Middleburg, the terms of first-term Mayor Bridge Littleton and Councilmen Chris Bernard, Kevin Daly and Philip Miller will expire in June. All four will seek re-election. The mayor’s term will expire in June 2022 and the council terms will expire June 2024. Councilman Bud Jacobs will also be on the ballot for a special election, running for a seat with a term that expires June 2022.
In Purcellville, three-term Mayor Kwasi Fraser and Councilmen Chris Bledsoe, Ryan Cool and Nedim Ogelman will see their terms expire in June. Fraser will go up against former 12-year councilwoman Beverly Chiasson, as five newcomers step into the ring to vie for three council seats. They are Christopher Bertaut, Mary Lynn Hickey, Stanley Milan, Erin Rayner and Mary Jane Williams. The mayor’s term will expire in June 2022 and the council terms will expire June 2024.
In Round Hill, the terms Mayor Scott Ramsey, Vice Mayor Mary Anne Graham and Councilmembers Melissa Hoffmann and Mike Hummel will expire this year. All of them, except for Hoffmann, will be on the May 5 ballot. The mayor’s term will expire in June 2022 and the council terms will expire June 2024. Councilwoman Paula James will also be on the ballot in a special election, running for a seat that expires in June 2022.
Absentee voting began March 20. The last day to request a mailed absentee ballot— unless the General Assembly moves the election—is April 28.
The General Assembly will reconvene April 22 to consider, among other things, revisions to the state budget and Northam’s request.