NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The decision was unanimous: Earlier this year the Norfolk City Council elected 32-year-old Danica Royster to temporarily fill the 7th Ward seat, which covers the East and Southside of Norfolk.
The seat was vacated by Councilwoman Angelia Williams Graves when she was elected to the House of Delegates in a special election.
The young wealth consultant jumped into politics quickly by taking on thorny issues such as plans to eliminate bus stops served by low-income families and improving police-community relations.
But now that Royster is running against five others for the 7th Ward seat — in a special election set for November — Councilman Paul R. Riddick (Ward 4) is crying foul, saying the millennial member violated tradition.
“The council allowed this lady to say ‘Well I’m going to hold the seat, and I’m going to run as well,'” said Riddick from the front porch of his family’s century-old home in the Huntersville section of Norfolk.
In what has been customary, according to Riddick, when the council votes for a temporary member, that member does not seek that seat in the next election. He referenced the temporary selection of Alveta Green in 2014 for the Ward 3 seat.
This week, Riddick penned a letter to his colleges on council demanding Royster’s resignation. Ward 7 challenger Michael Muhammad, himself a former mayoral candidate, amplified Riddick’s concerns.
“She [Royster] has introspection into private affairs of the city from the perspective of business development: St. Paul’s quadrant and Military Circle,” said Muhammad.
In a news release, Royster wrote: She is grateful for Riddick’s vote but said, “We cannot address issues through petty politics and bickering with one another.”
Muhammad, who has played a major role in assisting families in wrongful death cases, was asked if he is prepared to take the dispute to court if Royster refuses to resign.
“Absolutely we are prepared to do what is necessary,” said Muhammad.
Muhammad is the most well-known figure among the six candidates seeking the seat.
Royster, through a spokesperson, stated she will not resign and will continue her campaign with the endorsements of five of her colleagues on council, including Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander.
On Nov. 2, 2021, Norfolk voters will cast ballots in the General Election for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, 100th House of Delegates, commonwealth’s attorney, sheriff, commissioner of revenue, treasurer, and Special Election for City Council Superward 7.