PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth residents voted for changes within city leadership on Election Day.

With three Portsmouth City Council seats available and 11 candidates on the ballot. Unofficial results show voters did not re-elect councilmembers Paul Battle and Chris Woodard.

View 10 On Your Side’s full voter guide HERE.

Key voter concerns included crime, economic growth and recent turmoil, with over 27,000 residents voting early and in person according to the Portsmouth registrar.

This comes after months of drama in council chambers.

In May, former city manager Angel Jones was fired following a 4-3 vote including Vice-Mayor De’Andre Barns, Councilman Mark Whitaker, Battle and Woodard.

The same group moved to appoint former Police Chief Tonya Chapman to the position.

Recently, Jones filed a $5.35 million wrongful termination accusing the four councilmen of wrongful termination and corruption. Councilmen Barnes and Whitaker deny all allegations of wrongdoing. Several city activists and residents want to recall Barnes and Whitaker.

Voters elected Navy veteran Mark Hugel, current school board member Vernon Tillage Jr. and incumbent Bill Moody.

10 On Your Side’s Kiahnna Patterson met with projected winners Tuesday night.

“This is an opportunity for Portsmouth to come to together, all pulling in one direction to solve some of tough problems,” Hugel said.

“They are tired of being embarrassed. This was a referendum on the previous city council,” said Tillage Jr. “They wanted a positive change. They wanted people they could trust. They wanted people with integrity.”

“[Voters] spoke very loudly. That they want us to get back to us being the city council, to get back to doing the work of the citizens,” said Moody, who has been Portsmouth City Council for 24 years. 

Last week, WAVY.com reported current City Manager Tonya Chapman describes a hostile work environment. Chapman writes this could constitute a breach of her contract.

10 On Your Side asked Mayor Shannon Glover about how the city plans to move into the future.

“Once we have a chance to sit down and I understand what their vision is. Then I think we can formulate a game plan of how we’re going to work with our CEO to move Portsmouth forward,” said Glover.

To voters, he said “thank you for coming out and participating in this process. You deserve the best leadership that you can vote for. I intend to lead this group back to that bold new direction and achieve the goals that the citizens look forward to us achieving in making Portsmouth a better place to live, work and play.”

Quniana “Q” Futrell will join the Portsmouth School Board. Incumbents Dr. Cardell Patillo, Dr. Melvin Cotton and Tamara Shewmake received overwhelming support to continue school leadership.

Since Tillage was elected to the school board in 2020 with a 4-year term, the school board may need a special election in January. WAVY.com received this Virginia code from the Portsmouth registrar.

On Thursday, Chapman issued a statement stating her excitement to work with the new council members.

Every year elections in the U.S. bring change. This year in Portsmouth, two citizens were newly elected to our City Council, congratulations. I look forward to working with every council member, staff member, and our community as we continue to work toward reducing crime, improving infrastructure, and growing business in our great city. As Henry Ford once said: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

Portsmouth City Manager Tonya Chapman

…The governing body or, in the case of an elected school board, the school board of the county, city, or town in which the vacancy occurs shall, within 15 days of the occurrence of the vacancy, petition the circuit court to issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy as set forth in Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6. Either upon receipt of the petition or on its own motion, the court shall issue the writ ordering the election promptly and shall order the special election to be held on the date of the next general election in November or in May if the vacant office is regularly scheduled by law to be filled in May. However, if the governing body or the school board requests in its petition a different date for the election, the court shall order the special election be held on that date, so long as the date requested precedes the date of such next general election and complies with the provisions of § 24.2-682. If the vacancy occurs within 90 days of the next such general election and the governing body or the school board has not requested in its petition a different date for the election, the special election shall be held on the date of the second such general election. Upon receipt of written notification by an officer or officer-elect of his resignation as of a stated date, the governing body or school board, as the case may be, may immediately petition the circuit court to issue a writ of election, and the court may immediately issue the writ to call the election. The officer’s or officer-elect’s resignation shall not be revocable after the date stated by him for his resignation or after the forty-fifth day before the date set for the special election. The person so elected shall hold the office for the remaining portion of the regular term of the office for which the vacancy is being filled.

Virginia code section 24.2-226

The transition for council is set for January 2023.