Hopewell election challenged in court

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – The outcome of a local election is being challenged in court. Reverend Curtis Harris was re-elected to a seventh term on Hopewell City Council back in May. Now, some people are calling for him to step down.

There are allegations that Harris possibly used "fraudulent tactics" during his campaign -- which impacted the outcome. A petition contesting his landslide victory for the ward two city council slot has been filed in court.

Two former candidates who ran against Harris, David Silvestro and Yolanda Stokes, worked together to submit the petition in circuit court.

"The biggest thing is that the signatures were illegally obtained," said Silvestro.

The petition claims signatures to get Harris on the ballot were collected by persons not qualified to receive them.

"Curtis wasn't there when the signatures were taken - he signed off as if he was there and we've gotten affidavits showing he was not there to get the signatures," said Silvestro.

There are also charges of possible "harassment and intimidation" at the polls -- and the possible "hindering of voters" by the Harris campaign.

Nicole Bell: "What's your response to these allegations?"
Rev. Curtis Harris: "The allegations are false and that's my only response."

Harris says he was shocked when he was served with the court petition.

Nicole Bell: "Are you comfortable with the way the election was handled - your role in the election?" 
Rev. Curtis Harris: "Absolutely, absolutely."

Harris has hired an attorney and says he plans on serving out his term. Meanwhile, Silvestro hopes the court will investigate the matter and unseat Harris.

"I think if Curtis steps down that would be the admirable thing to do," said Silvestro.

Harris has been sworn in to serve out his 7th term in office. A court date on the matter has not been set.

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