PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — WAVY.com has been following the story of two potential Portsmouth City Council candidates who have been kept off the ballot and who are now taking action by filing a lawsuit.
Portsmouth council elections used to be held in May, with a filing deadline for the candidates being the first Tuesday in March. This year, for the first time, city council elections are in November, so the
General Assembly changed the filing deadline on the Portsmouth City Charter from March to June, but kept the deadline on the first Tuesday in March.
Former Councilwoman Elizabeth Psimas is so mad about not getting a chance to sit on city council again, she's going to court.
"You follow the rules, and then you are treated differently. I feel like I have been discriminated against because I followed the rules, and that's not right," Psimas said.
Psimas will argue everything she read and was told, and that the filing deadline to run for Portsmouth City Council was the second Tuesday in June, which was June 12. The Portsmouth registrar and the State Board of Elections said that too.
"I followed those rules. Paul Smith followed those rules, and yet we have been excluded, and that is not fair," Psimas said.
Paul Smith is part of the court action too, "I would be pretty disappointed. I think a lot of people would be disappointed as well. There's a fairly good opportunity to win this election cycle, and I was looking forward to it."
The injunction would be against the three-person Portsmouth Electoral Board. Bill Watts faces the lawsuit for going with the newly changed city charter that says the first Tuesday in June.
"We followed the advice of the State Board of Elections, and the attorney general. We followed what they said, and we feel like we are in compliance with he law," Watts said.
The State Board of Elections first advised the Portsmouth Registrar to go with the June 12 deadline, but changed that opinion after getting informal legal advice from the State Attorney General.
The problem is the Charter reads first Tuesday when the polls close. There's never an election the first Tuesday of June. Psimas will argue she was being asked to do an impossible thing
— sign up during a period of time that did not exist. The election is always the second Tuesday of June, just like it was with the Republican Primary last week.
"You have to go with the Charter change because the Charter supersedes the State. This was acted on by the General Assembly," Watts said.
Psimas isn't buying that at all.
"Charter, smarter, Andy. It doesn't matter. You follow the rules of the Electoral Board, you follow the State Board of Elections. They set the standard," Psimas said.
The court papers have not been filed yet. Ironically, Councilman Steve Heretick who is also running is providing free legal advice to Psimas and Smith.
If Heretick is successful, he will have more candidates running against him. Generally speaking, an incumbent wants as many people running against him as possible because it dilutes the anti-incumbent vote.
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