After a Federal lawsuit in 2020 invalidated Virginia Beach’s racially discriminatory election system and a new state statute in 2021 eliminated the at-large voting system for seats with residency requirements, voters in the recent November election were able to directly elect their council members.
The results of this historic election provided Virginia Beach with the most diverse city council in history, electing three African-Americans. In addition, the new election system provided citizens direct representation and allowed candidates to campaign without the costs of running expensive city-wide campaigns. In some district races, special interests and developer money contributed over $100,000 or more on some of the losing candidates.
Now Mayor Bobby Dyer, who fought regularly against the new election system, plans on turning back the clock to the old system that favors special interest groups and the shadow government of the elite and well-connected.
Mayor Dyer has said he’s heard from some people who were dissatisfied with the new election system because they could only vote for one council member or none at all.
Let’s remind Mayor Dyer and those that are dissatisfied with the new election system that General Assembly members and District Congressional seats are elected via a similar, district only type system. Neighboring cities have similar election systems. History was made this past election where new leaders of diverse backgrounds and ages were elected.
For someone who ran on a pro-community platform, Mayor Dyer’s actions now run contrary to what the citizens have wanted for years, which is to directly elect city council and school board members who reside in their district.
Further, the Mayor and his supporters on the City Council should rather focus and steer more resources in making the elections run more efficiently.
The City Council could place in the budget additional money for the hiring of more election officials, conduct public information campaigns on the new districts in the media, and even purchase additional voting machines to accommodate more voters at the polls.
Mayor Dyer’s plan starts tomorrow at the city council meeting where a public hearing will be held on a resolution to direct the city manager to hold public hearings on our new election system. This resolution was placed on the agenda by Mayor Bobby Dyer without any discussion during previous informal or formal city council sessions.
Here’s what you can do if you think the Mayor and some of the members on City Council are wrong:
- Email the city council at CityCouncil@vbgov.com and tell them to keep the current election system. The new system works. New diverse leaders of different backgrounds were elected.
- Show up at tomorrow’s meeting to let them know you support our new system and don’t want to go backwards.Attend tomorrow night’s meeting at 6pm at 2401 Courthouse Dr, Building 1, Virginia Beach, VA 23456
You play an important part in protecting voting rights. Make your voice be heard!