PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Voters in Portsmouth headed to the polls to determine MayorJames Holley's political future Tuesday.
WAVY.com was there as the mayor cast his vote in the specialelection. It's the result of thousands of Portsmouth residentssigning a petition to throw the embattled Mayor out of office.Mayor Holley has been at the center of history his entire adultlife, and Tuesday night was no different.
His critics call him somewhat of a "Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hyde." He'smade great strides in civil rights, then in 2008 he suggested thatPortsmouth needed a "black" hotel to act as a counter-balance tothe "white" Renaissance Hotel.
He later apologized for the remark, saying that his words were"misinterpreted." It's Mayor Holley's need to apologize time andtime again that's brought us to this recall election.
If you want to know the history of James W. Holley III then goto his boyhood home on North Street in Downtown Portsmouth awayfrom the ribbon cuttings. Holley grew up there, and a plaquerecognizes him as Portsmouth's first African American Mayor andCity Council member elected in 1968.
Mayor Holley graduated from I.C. Norcom High School in 1944 andclaims to be the only surviving member of the class, "Jesus Christ,our savior, kept me here. All the others are gone. I am thehistory. I look about 35."
Mayor Holley made lots of history, went to Dental Schoolgraduating from Howard University College of Dentistry in 1955 andbecame a trail blazer of success. Holley's organization helped wincourt battles allowing equal use of the city's libraries,hospitals, restaurants and golf courses.
Then something happened in 1987, Holley became the firstVirginia Politician to be recalled following his implication in ahate-mail scheme. Like a phoenix rising form the ashes, Holley waselected again in 1996.
Then Lorraine Stokes came forward. A former assistant to themayor who claims he created a hostile work environment making herdo his personal chores and errands. Even Portsmouth City Councilcalled the Mayor's behavior hostile, and abusive. He laterapologized for the remark, saying that his words were"misconstrued" and "misinterpreted".
Portsmouth residents organized a petition drive and got thesignatures that forced Tuesday's recall election.
It's not surprising that this man who fought for the rights ofAfrican Americans to freely vote, says it's the vote that put himin and the vote that will take him out. "When the citizens make adetermination for me to sit on the back porch with a cup oflemonade, then I'll do it," Holley said.
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