PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - The conclusions from the landslide election are unmistakable: Bya greater than two-to-one margin, city voters said James Holley isnot capable of doing the job they expect a mayor to do.
The votes were also noticeably weighted on each side accordingto race, with predominantly black districts siding with Holley, andpredominantly white ones siding against.
"They want to keep it like it was and they can't," said Holleyin an exclusive interview with WAVY.com.
No one mentioned "race" in the recall election more than Holleyhimself. In that interview on July 9, Holley complained that nobuildings in the city of Portsmouth had been named for him.
"It's my skin," he said, pointing to his arm. "If I were whitethen I'd already been [recognized] all over the community...Ibelieve it. It's the truth."
At a Holley campaign News conference on June 30, CampaignManager and School Board member Dr. Mark Whitaker said race is theissue.
"[There are] attacks against our black leaders or community thatare deeply seeded racial issues that others have not reconciled intheir conscience nor in their actions," he said.
"It isn't just about race. It really is demeaning to thesepeople [who supported the recall by those] who make it about race,"said Robert Marcus, who organized the recall effort. He says racewas not behind the recall campaign, but it was about Holley'sinability to do the job.
"There will always be people who make it a racial issue. It'sthe easiest thing to claim and the toughest thing to disprove.People are getting more intelligent, and getting a little weary of[that claim]" said Marcus.
WAVY.com examined the top six performing precincts for eachside. The average voter turnout for those wanting to recall Holleywas 41 percent in those six precincts. In his top precincts, theaverage voter turnout was only 23 percent, which was below the cityaverage of 26 percent.
"His base stayed home, and they failed to support him," Marcussaid.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Psimas acknowledged the deep racialdivisions in Portsmouth and said racial unity must become a toppriority.
"We need to pull this community back together. There has beensome racial division. There have been some hurt feelings--a lot ofthings said. We need to unify the city back together," shesaid.
Robert Marcus received calls from all over the country in hiseffort to recall Holley. Many are asking him to run for citycouncil himself. Marcus said he is not interested.
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