New elec­toral board mem­bers hit ground run­ning

Hopewell in­ter­ims named chair­man and vice chair­man, vow unity in run­ning fu­ture elec­tions

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Lyn­don Ger­man H-P Staff Writer

HOPEWELL -- In­terim mem­bers of the city Elec­toral Board at­tended their first meet­ing Thurs­day night, just days be­fore Tues­day’s elec­tion. And they did not waste time get­ting their feet wet, ei­ther. Ge­orge Uz­zle and Sheila Mick­el­son, named to re­place David W. Sil­ve­stro and Herbert F. Townes Jr., were im­me­di­ately se­lected as board chair­man and vice chair­man, re­spec­tively. The for­mer chair­man, Pa­trick Wash­ing­ton, be­came the board sec­re­tary.

Uz­zle and Mick­el­son were ap­pointed to the board last week to suc­ceed Sil­ve­stro and Townes af­ter the lat­ter were sus­pended by a Hopewell Cir­cuit Court judge over charges made by the state Board of Elec­tions over malfea­sance in of­fice. Sil­ve­stro was the board’s vice chair­man, and Townes was its sec­re­tary.

Uz­zle and Mick­el­son were rec­om­mended for the po­si­tions by the Hopewell Demo­cratic Com­mit­tee. Un­der state law, the ma­jor­ity of the lo­cal and state elec­toral boards must rep­re­sent the party of the sit­ting gover­nor.

Wash­ing­ton is the lone Repub­li­can.

Uz­zle has no elec­toral board ex­pe­ri­ence, but said he is fa­mil­iar with the process, be­ing a for­mer vice chair­man of the Hopewell Democrats.

Mick­el­son said she feels each board mem­ber “is very ca­pa­ble and qual­i­fied, and each has their own strengths in terms of lead­er­ship.

“I think the peo­ple in Hopewell will be very well served with Ge­orge’s lead­er­ship and Pa­trick’s lead­er­ship,” she said.

Mick­el­son said both she and Uz­zle will be re­ly­ing on

re­ly­ing on guid­ance from Wash­ing­ton and Gen­eral Regis­trar Yolanda W. Stokes as they pre­pare for Tues­day’s elec­tion.

The board also set Nov. 26 as its next meet­ing date.

The tenures of Uz­zle and Mick­el­son will be de­ter­mined by the out­come of the court ac­tion against Sil­ve­stro and Townes.

On Sept. 20, the state Board of Elec­tions adopted pe­ti­tions to re­move Sil­ve­stro and Townes from the board over their votes to send an il­le­gal bal­lot draft to the state Depart­ment of Elec­tions. The bal­lot had the names of three of the eight can­di­dates ap­pear­ing in all cap­i­tal let­ters, a vi­o­la­tion of the state’s bal­lot-uni­for­mity rules. Sil­ve­stro and Townes both main­tained they were only vot­ing on how the can­di­dates put down on their can­di­dacy forms how they wanted their names to ap­pear.

Both men have re­quested a jury to hear their de­fense against the pe­ti­tions. Trial dates of Feb. 28 and March 1, 2019, have been set, ac­cord­ing to elec­tronic court records.

In the in­terim, Mick­el­son said she, Uz­zle and Wash­ing­ton will work as a “uni­fy­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion” for the city.

“We have a job to do in the city of Hopewell as far as how elec­tions are be­ing run ef­fi­ciently and with in­tegrity,” Mick­el­son said. “We make sure they’re ac­cu­rate and they’re fair and that we’re ac­count­able. This is the ser­vice we’re here to do to the best of our abil­i­ties.”

Wash­ing­ton ap­plauded the ap­point­ments, adding he was look­ing for­ward “to a smooth and fair Elec­tion Day.”

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