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Ward 3 School Board race in question; Electoral Board to meet Tuesday
The only competitive race (with real candidates) in the May 4 city elections–the Ward 3 School Board race–might not end up being competitive, after all.
Its fate depends on what decision the city’s Electoral Board makes at an emergency meeting that has been called for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Voter Registrar’s office, at 601 Caroline St.
According to board Chairwoman Amanda McGrady, members of Ward
3 Board incumbent Janice Walsh’s campaign examined the campaign filing of challenger Jannan Holmes, which Holmes had been told was complete, after the March 2 filing deadline.
Walsh’s campaign found that the person circulating one of the petitions for the 125 signatures required to get on the ballot was a Ward 2 resident.
State law requires candidates for public office to submit at least 125 signatures from registered voters qualified to vote in the race the candidate is seeking (in this case, Ward 3 voters). The code has this to say about who can circulate petitions for those signatures:
Each signature on the petition shall have been witnessed by a person who is himself a qualified voter, or qualified to register to vote, for the office for which he is circulating the petition and whose affidavit to that effect appears on each page of the petition.
So, McGrady said, the Electoral Board will meet tomorrow to determine whether Holmes’ name can appear on the ballot. Ballots have to be printed soon, since absentee voting begins 30 days before the May 4 election, so McGrady said the board wants to make this decision quickly.
McGrady said Walsh also needs to sign her campaign finance form, which lists her treasurer and the name of her campaign, to complete her candidate filing, but that issue is not threatening her ability to be listed on the ballot.
Holmes does not dispute that the petition in question was circulated by a Ward 2 resident.
However, she said that her husband had looked closely at the rules for petitions, and had specifically asked the registrar’s staff whether a person needed to be a registered voter in the city, or a registered voter specifically in Ward 3, to collect signatures for her.
“They told us it’s fine as long as she’s a registered voter in the city,” Holmes said.
Without the petition in question, Holmes still had around 107 qualified signatures. She said she went door-to-door this weekend to collect more than enough qualified signatures to get her over the 125 mark, just in case it could help her get on the ballot.
If the Electoral Board decides tomorrow that she cannot be listed on the ballot, Holmes said she will still run as a write-in candidate.
“I feel like the citizens of Fredericksburg deserve to have people run,” Holmes said. “If it makes people more interested in the race, it’s a good thing.”
If she does appear on the ballot, it would be the first time in more than a decade that any Fredericksburg School Board member has been opposed in an election.
The question of who can circulate candidate petitions has come up before around here.
In 2005, former Stafford County Supervisor David Beiler was indicted on election fraud charges after he helped collect signatures for a candidate outside of his district.
A special prosecutor asserted that Beiler had committed perjury by signing the affidavit on the petition. Beiler was acquitted of all charges.