PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - The Portsmouth Electoral Board has certified the votes fromTuesday night's recall election, making it official that JamesHolley is no longer mayor of the city.
The Portsmouth City Council gathered for a top-secret meeting at5 p.m. Wednesday to discuss who to select as interim mayor, beforea new mayor is elected in November. WAVY.com confirmed threenames being tossed around as possibilities for the post:
First, and possibly the most likely choice, Bernard Griffin. Hewas vice mayor of Portsmouth for six years, leaving office in2004. He also served as a Portsmouth councilman for 12 yearsand he's a retired teacher.
Another possibility, Bishop Curtis Edmonds, pastor at St. MarkMissionary Baptist Church. He's a Vietnam vet, but somecouncilmembers are concerned about his lack of experience ingovernment.
And a third possibility, Luke McCoy who has worked in Portsmouthgovernment. He is currently the Chairman of the PortsmouthEconomic Development Authority. He also served as city manager andassistant city manager in portsmouth.
Tuesday about 16,000 Portsmouth residents showed up at the pollsto vote on whether or not to recall their now-former mayor. In theend, they voted to recall Holley.
The numbers were greater than in the recent council election,where only about 10,000 showed up to cast votes. Sixty-eightpercent voted to recall Mayor Holley and 32 percent wanted Holleyto stay in office.
The recall effort began with a round of complaints from one ofhis former assistants that he created a hostile work environment.The City Council voted to ask Mayor Holley to resign, and when herefused, a petition drive was initiated to force Holley out.
This is the second time Mayor Holley has been recalled, but isthe end of a political career that spans 42 years.
Mayor James Holley did not want to hear the news.
"I want all the numbers," he said. And those numbers came inquickly at the voter registration office.
Robert Marcus, the architect of the recall effort, was therewatching the returns.
"I have to tell you that I am shocked that this many people cameout," he said
More voters came out than in the previous two city wide councilelections, and the loss could not be misunderstood.
Holley did not want updates on the vote count.
"What are you trying to scare me out of office? Take it easynow," he said. "Wait till everything [has] been counted."
The mayor's son took the numbers and shared the news with hisfather. He was gracious in defeat surrounded by his children--theveteran of many political wars tried to put the election inperspective:
"I know you have some disappointment. Well, that goes in thepolitical process. You win some elections and you lose some."
The supporters thanked Holley, and he urged them to stay engagedin the political process he has dedicated his life to, "...beinvolved in the democratic process, that you fulfill theresponsibility to improve the quality of life for the Portsmouthfamily."
Councilwoman Elizabeth Psimas says the election showed voterswant Portsmouth to have a mayor who can be a leader at the regionaltable.
"First we need to celebrate [Mayor Holley's] good service.Second, we must unify the city back together...there has been aracial divide...there have been hurt feelings...now is the time tocome back together."
Preliminary analysis of the returns show Holley did well inpredominately African American precincts, but the voter turnoutthere was not enough to make a difference. The predominately whiteprecincts overwhelming voted against Holley.
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