VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — While election results are still unofficial until they are certified in the coming weeks, initial numbers point to changes coming to both Virginia Beach City Council and School Board.
With all but one precinct reporting, two City Council incumbents and two School Board incumbents appear to be out after Virginia Beach’s first election under a new system. As the dust settles, it’s the new power dynamics many will be looking to figure out.
The new election system split City Council and School Board seats up into 10 districts that have roughly 46,000 people in them. Only voters living within the district could vote for candidates running in that particular district.
That’s a far change from the city’s longtime system. Traditionally, Virginia Beach races were conducted in what became known as a “hybrid at-large” system. Those serving on the city council or school board had to live in certain parts of the city, but every voter could vote for every member.
The change came about after a federal court judge ruled the longtime system “denies Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians equal access to the electoral and political process.”
If current results hold, the incoming Virginia Beach City Council will be the most diverse in the city’s history. Former Councilwoman Amelia Ross-Hammond as well as political newcomers Jennifer Rouse and Chris Taylor won their races. They, together with current Councilwoman Sabrina Wooten, would make four of the 11-seats held by African Americans.
Council members John Moss and Linwood Branch are both poised to exit their seats at the end of the year after losing in their new districts where they had multiple opponents.
Moss, who has made a name for himself rallying against tourism investments and tax increases, will leave the City Council at the end of the year after roughly 18-years of service. Newcomer Joash Schulman will take his seat.
Moss went on social media to confirm his loss stating he “does not expect the uncounted ballots to close his deficit.
Read the full statement from Councilman John Moss below:
District 9 Election Status
Not unlike in 2018 I went to bed Tuesday night being down about 400 votes and in last place in a three man race.
I woke up on Wednesday morning being down 330 votes and in second place.
The change moving TJ to third place and Joash to first place was early voting.
The only ballots outstanding are post election and provisional ballots counted after Election Day.
I have no historical knowledge of the volume of such votes. Unlike in 2018 and I do not expect the uncounted ballots to close my deficit.
I fully expect Mr. Shulman to be certified the winner of the District 9 seat on City Council when the yet uncounted votes are counted.
With no disrespect for the process and to voters whose votes are not yet counted, I find it reasonable to acknowledge that Mr. Shulman’s will be the first District 9 Council Member on January 1, 2023.
As soon as a reasonable morning hour permits I will convey my congratulations to Joash.
Last night I conveyed my thanks to my campaign team for a job well done and to my family for all their support more on that later.
The voters have spoken and I have the greatest respect for their collective judgment and wisdom.
I have been blessed with the honor and privilege of serving my fellow Beach residents for the last twelve years with no regrets and too numerous to count fond memories. God has blessed me beyond measure in elective office. Come the new year I will be blessed with new opportunities.Councilman John Moss
Branch, who also served on City Council for a decade in the 90s, will be replaced by Worth Remick.
Remick, who has long worked in commercial real estate, ran a campaign that painted Branch as a conduit for specific developers looking for projects at the Oceanfront. As of Wednesday evening, Branch has yet to publicly address the election.
Over on the Virginia Beach School Board, Chairwoman Carolyn Rye and board member Sharon Felton both lost their seats to candidates endorsed by Students First, a political action committee founded in part by Virginia Beach School Board member Vicki Manning.
Manning and allies had made it a goal to try and “flip” the school board in order to try and implement more “parental choice” policies in the district and “oppose socialist equity agendas that promote equal outcomes rather than an opportunity for all.”
With unofficial results, Michael Callan, David Culpepper and Kathleen Brown appear to have been elected to the school board for the first time. Carolyn Weems also is poised to win her sixth term.
Together with Manning, whose term is up at the end of 2024, they will hold five seats on the 11-member board.
School board members Beverly Anderson, Jessica Owens, Trenace Riggs, Kim Melnyk as well as newcomer Staci Martin are expected to continue to make up voting block that continues to push back against the Students First agenda. ;
Current school board member Jennifer Franklin is expected to be a swing vote. While she was supported by Manning in 2020 when she unseated a longtime incumbent, Franklin has not consistently voted with Manning and Weems on all issues.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.