Did SBE decision go far enough?
The Hopewell Electoral Board, in its current form, is nothing more than a train wreck. Don’t believe us? Look back at the Sept. 20 State Board of Elections meeting, when electoral board members were called to Richmond to explain how the issue of illegal capital letters on a ballot got so out of hand. If you look at the testimony from that meeting, the only reason it got so out of hand is because the Hopewell Electoral Board has gotten so out of hand.
Two of its members disapprove of the third because they think he is a grandstander. The third, who happens to be the board chairman, asserts that the two others are nothing more than schoolyard bullies who make decisions and set the pace without his input.
In the middle of all this, you have a general registrar who calls herself a “puppet” because she has to serve the wishes of the local board while making sure the folks at the state Department of Elections are happy, too. That’s chaos in our books.
It also does not help that the city’s registrar is trusted by some members of Hopewell City Council only about as far as they can throw her. See, she used to be on the board of the Hopewell Redevelopment and Housing Authority, but she was tossed off by council five years ago. Four of the sitting councilors now were on council back then. Two of them are up for re-election in November. One of them is the current mayor, whose name did not appear on that ballot in all caps and, to no surprise, roared among the loudest when the controversy came to light.
When this controversial figure came back as the city’s top election official five years later, it only stood to reason that some on council would take that as a finger in the eye.
So after all of this, it does not surprise us at all that the SBE members voted to ask the Hopewell Circuit Court to remove two of the three board members. We are surprised, though, that the third member of the board was not targeted for removal. His time is not without its problems, either.
He claimed the others on the board pushed him around on agenda issues and always voted as a bloc against him. And this is the chairman, the one charged with keeping order. What does that say about his ability to preside, much less get along with others? And who is to say trouble will not continue because he is of one political party and the potential replacements would be of the other party?
Overall, Hopewell’s performance Sept. 20 before the state board was far from their finest hour. Their testimony gave SBE members no other alternative but to step in and do something. We would argue that perhaps they should have gone the extra step and asked to sweep the whole board clean.