Stalling, simply put
As if their appearance before the state Board of Elections was not bad enough, the Hopewell Electoral Board sunk to a new low with the strategy they unveiled last week in Hopewell Circuit Court. First, the attorney for David Silvestro and Herbert Townes wanted a delay in hearing the petitions the state filed to remove them from their posts. It seems Messrs. Silvestro and Townes waited too long to seek counsel because they thought as appointed officials, they would have someone from the state attorney general’s office to represent them. Never mind that the state attorney general was too busy representing the state in this matter.
Guess they thought the AG was going to play both sides and claim victory regardless.
Then they both decided they wanted their case to be heard by a jury of their own peers. A jury trial is certainly within their legal prerogative, but really? As much publicity as this issue has gotten, they seriously think they are going to be able to empanel 12 Hopewellians who have stayed under a rock all year and not known or heard anything about this case?
Needless to say, these shenanigans — and that is basically what they are — left the state, not to mention us and the others in the Hopewell courtroom, scratching our collective heads.
First of all, why didn’t Messrs. Silvestro and Townes save us all this time and energy by just submitting their resignations once the state said it was coming after them? While the SBE meeting was technically not a court of law, the evidence presented clearly proved that they knew exactly what they were doing when they cast their votes to send a draft ballot back to Richmond with certain council candidates’ names in all capital letters. And that was just part of the litany of impropriety the state had against them.
Mr. Townes even had the guts to say after that SBE meeting that the state board was missing the point.
With all due respect, sir, we feel the role was reversed then and it still is now. It is you and Mr. Silvestro who are missing the point. And now, instead of facing the music in court like the two reasonably intelligent men you are, you continue to thumb your nose at the state and at the court in making this legally acceptable, yet intellectually unbelievable, request.
Seriously, we are surprised their attorney was able to keep a straight face when he made the request on their behalf. Those in the court gallery certainly could not, and while they had their backs to the gallery, we can only imagine the state attorney general’s representatives could not, either.
The jury request is nothing more than a stall tactic. Messrs. Silvestro and Townes read the papers and look at television and social media. They know how much attention has been given to this issue. Good luck finding 12 impartial people from Hopewell to judge them.
We know it probably could be done, but we also know that might take a while. Hopewell has more than 22,000 citizens, but it really is a small town in the fact that everyone pretty much knows everyone else. The only thing that usually spreads faster than kudzu is pre-judgment and opinion.
It may take a while to seat these people, but the only thing that would take longer is to go outside of Hopewell looking for jurors, or even worse, having a change of venue.
If anything good came out of this, Judge W. Edward Tomko III granted the state’s request to take Messrs. Silvestro and Townes off the Hopewell Electoral Board for the time being. Their replacements suggested by the Hopewell Democratic Committee, George Uzzle and Sheila Mickelson, will be put on the board to at least see the city through Election Day (which, by the way, is a little more than a week away). Whether these people get the job permanently or not apparently depends upon what 12 of their fellow citizens have to say. Let’s just hope it is soon and it is the correct call — David Silvestro and Herbert Townes have proven themselves to be, as the senior state attorney general put it, “unfit to fulfill their duties.”