A judge suspended two members of the Hopewell Electoral Board

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By Brandon Jarvis

A judge suspended 2 members of the Hopewell Electoral Board after a controversy over capitalized names on a City Council ballot.

William Edward Tomko III, a Hopewell Circuit Court Judge ordered that Electoral Board members David Silvestro and Herbert Townes be temporarily suspended from office until a jury trial can determine if permanent removal from the board is necessary due to not doing their job correctly.

Silvestro and Townes are both Democrats. Electoral Boards across the state consist of 3 members. The party that holds the Governor’s mansion gets 2 members. The suspension was warranted by the judge after the jury trial was delayed so that the defendants can have more time to prepare their defense.

Lawyers that work in the office of the Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring are suing Silvestro and Townes after they backed Hopewell Registrar Yolanda Stokes’s attempt to use voting ballots with some of the City Council candidates’ names in all-capital letters.

The State Board stepped in to put a stop to the controversy saying that all of the candidates names should appear the same.

Assistant Attorney General Steve Foster said that “They sat on their hands,” and that “They failed to retain counsel until late last week.” It is important to note that the AG’s office would regularly represent the defendants, but they are actually on the other side of the courtroom prosecuting Silvestro and Townes.

Patrick Washington is the Chairman of the Hopewell Electoral Board and the lone Republican. He told Richmond 2day that he thinks “it will be better for them to officially resign so that the citizens of Hopewell can quickly move beyond this embarrassment and I am willing to work with the new members.”

Judge Tomko said that the Hopewell Democratic Committee can chose two replacements for  Silvestro and Townes while the case is sorted out.

“I voted with one thing in mind but I see something else happened,” Townes told Aaron Thomas back in September.  “We are still now, trying to figure out how that in-house ballot got out to public before it came before the board.”

Jackie Shornak, the Mayor of Hopewell told Richmond 2day that she is “…disappointed that the Judge did not remove them entirely after all the evidence that the AG’s office had against them. I appreciate the State Board of Elections for hearing our concerns and acting upon them. However, I am still very uneasy that this election will fair and equitable to everyone. I feel the State needs to be in the Registrar’s office when the absentee ballots are counted and also during election day.”

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