Portsmouth Mayor James Holley sat down with WAVY's Andy Fox to …
Updated: Wednesday, 14 Jul 2010, 6:05 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 13 Jul 2010, 6:40 PM EDT
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Voters in Portsmouth headed to the polls to determine Mayor James Holley's political future Tuesday.
WAVY.com was there as the mayor cast his vote in the special election. It's the result of thousands of Portsmouth residents signing a petition to throw the embattled Mayor out of office. Mayor Holley has been at the center of history his entire adult life, and Tuesday night was no different.
His critics call him somewhat of a "Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hyde." He's made great strides in civil rights, then in 2008 he suggested that Portsmouth needed a "black" hotel to act as a counter-balance to the "white" Renaissance Hotel.
He later apologized for the remark, saying that his words were "misinterpreted." It's Mayor Holley's need to apologize time and time again that's brought us to this recall election.
If you want to know the history of James W. Holley III then go to his boyhood home on North Street in Downtown Portsmouth away from the ribbon cuttings. Holley grew up there, and a plaque recognizes him as Portsmouth's first African American Mayor and City Council member elected in 1968.
Mayor Holley graduated from I.C. Norcom High School in 1944 and claims to be the only surviving member of the class, "Jesus Christ, our savior, kept me here. All the others are gone. I am the history. I look about 35."
Mayor Holley made lots of history, went to Dental School graduating from Howard University College of Dentistry in 1955 and became a trail blazer of success. Holley's organization helped win court battles allowing equal use of the city's libraries, hospitals, restaurants and golf courses.
Then something happened in 1987, Holley became the first Virginia Politician to be recalled following his implication in a hate-mail scheme. Like a phoenix rising form the ashes, Holley was elected again in 1996.
Then Lorraine Stokes came forward. A former assistant to the mayor who claims he created a hostile work environment making her do his personal chores and errands. Even Portsmouth City Council called the Mayor's behavior hostile, and abusive. He later apologized for the remark, saying that his words were "misconstrued" and "misinterpreted".
Portsmouth residents organized a petition drive and got the signatures that forced Tuesday's recall election.
It's not surprising that this man who fought for the rights of African Americans to freely vote, says it's the vote that put him in and the vote that will take him out. "When the citizens make a determination for me to sit on the back porch with a cup of lemonade, then I'll do it," Holley said.
Opinions that are derogatory, attack other users or are offensive in nature may be removed. WAVY is not responsible for the content posted in this comment section. We reserve the right to remove any offensive or off-topic remark or thread. To mark a comment for review by a moderator, click "Flag as inappropriate."