PORTSMOUTH, VA - A petition drive to recall Portsmouth Mayor James Holley appearsto be making progress.
Organizers claim to have 1,500 more signatures than areneeded. WAVY.com has followed the petition drive since Holleyracked up thousands of taxpayer dollars for lavish expenses.
His former secretary claimed she had questionable jobresponsibilities. And If he were recalled, it wouldn't be the firsttime. Holley was recalled in 1987 after his involvement in ahate-mail scandal.
Today Mayor Holley spoke only to WAVY.com about the petitioneffort against him, and says he believes he may be out, but itwon't be without a fight. "They think I'm no good...because ofeverything else that's going on, I guess so."
The final straw to gather petitions appears to be when theCity Council voted 6-1 for Holley to resign after he was scoldedfor using his assistant for personal errands.
Only Holley voted himself to stay, and told a council chamberfull of people on August 12th 2009, "You put me here, and when Ileave from here, you will take me from here, and it won't be from aresignation."
When petition organizer Bob Marcus heard that, he had hadenough. "The problem we have six of seven council members who haveasked him to resign. He has refused to do it," Marcus said. "Hisattitude is the people put me in and the people can take me out,and we are willing to oblige him on that. "
Marcus claims to have 8,200 signatures for Holley's recall whenonly 6,700 are needed. The 6,700 is 30 percentof the voter turnoutfor the Gubernatorial election last November.
The city code calls for the 30 percent threshold.
"We've gathered so many more because maybe some could beconvicted felons, or who have lost their right to vote, or whomaybe visiting from Chesapeake and say 'hey I'd like to sign apetition' and who do not actually live in Portsmouth...we havecollected so many more so there will be no question," Marcussaid.
If the registrar and the court determine there are enoughsignatures, Holley then has five days to resign, or face the recallelection.
Holley says he will fight. WAVY.com asked if he was planningon staying in office:
"Yes," he responded.
Do you have any plans to resign? "None," said Holley.
Are you running for re-election in two years? "Two years is along time," Holley added.
They want you out before then, "apparently that is true,"Holley said.
According to Portsmouth City Code, the Chief Circuit Judge thenhas 30-40 days from the petition approval date to set the recallelection. A replacement candidate has until 10 days before thatdate to announce intentions to run, and must have 6,700 signaturesof Portsmouth residents.
That could be a very difficult task.
"We have plenty of people ready to make that happen," saysMarcus. One candidate has expressed interest in running, but toldthat to WAVY.com on extreme background and we will not reveal thatname until the candidate announces the intention to run.
Holley seems to have a quiet confidence he will not be recalled.When asked if he thinks he will still be Mayor at the end of theyear, hesaid, "No comment."
He then got in his corvette and drove away.
One of the big legal questions remains: can this recall electionoccur on the same date as the Portsmouth City Council elections setfor May 4th?
According to Portsmouth city code it would appear the chiefcircuit judge could make that happen. Virginia is also a FederalVoting Rights Act state. It is unsure at this time if the judge'sdecision for the election could be appealed to a federal court.
Putting the election on May 4 with the other elections wouldseem to mollify critics, since all Portsmouth residents are goingto the polls anyway on that date.
A routine traffic stop in Chesapeake resulted in a three-city pursuit Friday morning.
Wet weather is expected to move into the area over the weekend, forcing some areas to cancel or change their holiday events.
Four vehicles were involved in a crash on Route 17 in Gloucester Friday morning.