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Jaclyn Beran

Jackie Beran is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jaclyn.beran@ballotpedia.org

Eight file for Richmond City Council special election

Eight candidates have filed to run in a special election for the District 5 seat on the Richmond City Council in Virginia. They had until August 16 to file for the seat, and the special election is on November 5.
 
The special election was called after Councilman Parker Agelasto announced his resignation in April as a condition struck with then-Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring to avoid legal action for moving out of the district he represented. His resignation will be effective on November 30, 2019. Agelasto has served on the city council since 2013. The winner of the special election will serve the last year of Agelasto’s four-year term.
 
The eight candidates vying for the seat are Nicholas Da Silva, Stephanie Lynch, Jer’Mykeal McCoy, Robin Mines, Chuck Richardson, Graham Sturm, Mamie Taylor, and Thad Williamson. Richardson previously served on the city council from 1977 to 1995, while Taylor served as a Richmond school board member from 2012 to 2016.
 
Richmond is the fourth-largest city in Virginia and the 100th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


More than half of state legislative elections in 2019 lack either a Democrat or Republican

Four states—Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia—are holding regularly scheduled state legislative elections this year for 538 seats. The filing deadline has now passed in all four states. In the races for these 538 seats, 158 (29.3%) do not have a Democratic candidate on the ballot, and another 141 (26.2%) do not have a Republican candidate on the ballot.
 
Overall, 299 (55.6%) of the regular state legislative elections in 2019 lack either a Democratic or Republican candidate. Only one state legislative race does not have at least one major-party candidate on the ballot. Here is a breakdown of the stats for each state:
 
• Louisiana has 144 state legislative seats on the ballot. Of those, 67 (46.5%) do not have a Democratic candidate and 40 (27.7%) do not have a Republican candidate. Overall, 107 (74.3%) of Louisiana’s state legislative elections lack a candidate from one major party.
 
• Mississippi has 174 state legislative seats on the ballot. Of those, 78 (44.8%) do not have a Democratic candidate and 55 (31.6%) do not have a Republican candidate. Overall, 133 (76.4%) of Mississippi’s state legislative elections lack a candidate from one major party.
 
• New Jersey has 80 state legislative seats on the ballot. Of those, all of them have a Democratic candidate but three (3.8%) do not have a Republican candidate. Overall, three (3.8%) of New Jersey’s state legislative elections lack a candidate from one major party.
 
• Virginia has 140 state legislative seats on the ballot. Of those, 13 (9.3%) do not have a Democratic candidate and 43 (30.7%) do not have a Republican candidate. Overall, 56 (40.0%) of Virginia’s state legislative elections lack a candidate from one major party.
 
Mississippi and New Jersey have Republican and Democratic state government trifectas, respectively. Louisiana and Virginia both have a divided government with a Democratic governor but a Republican-held state House and state Senate. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 


Two Republicans competing in South Carolina special primary runoff

A special primary runoff for District 84 of the South Carolina House of Representatives is scheduled for August 13. Melissa Oremus and Alvin Padgett are running in the Republican primary runoff; they advanced to the runoff after defeating Cody Anderson, Danny Feagin, Ralph Gunter, and Sean Pumphrey in the July 30 primary. The winner of the primary runoff will be unopposed in the October 1 special election since no Democratic candidates filed for the seat.
 
The seat became vacant after Ronnie Young (R) passed away on May 19, 2019. Young had served in the state House since he won a special election in 2017. He won re-election in 2018 with 65% of the vote in the general election.
 
Heading into the special election, Republicans control the state House with a 78-44 majority with two vacancies. The other vacancy will be filled in a special election on August 20. Republicans also control the state Senate by a 27-19 margin. South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 
As of August, 70 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 24 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


11 candidates file for four Jersey City school board seats

In New Jersey, 11 candidates have filed to run for four seats on the Jersey City Public Schools school board. The general election is scheduled for November 5. The candidate filing deadline passed on July 29.
 
Three at-large seats with three-year terms are on the ballot, and incumbent Gerald Lyons, incumbent Sudhan Thomas, and Darwin Ona are running under the Education Matters ticket. Incumbent Gevonder Dupree was appointed to the board in March 2019 and did not file to run for a full term. Noemi Velazquez and Asheenia Johnson are running on the Change For Children ticket. The other candidates on the ballot include Neisha Louhar (ticket: Trust, Personalization, Inspire), Tara Stafford (ticket: Passionate Dedicated Caring), and Reginald Jones.
 
One additional seat is on the ballot to fill the unexpired one-year term of former board member Amy DeGise. Incumbent Gina Verdibello, David Czehut, and Anthony Sharperson are competing for the unexpired term. Incumbent Verdibello is running under the Education Matters ticket and was appointed to the seat in 2019 to replace DeGise.
 
In the 2018 election, all three Jersey City school board candidates who ran on the Education Matters ticket were elected to the board. Candidates who run under this ticket are supported by the Jersey City Education Association.
 
Jersey City Public Schools is the second-largest school district in the state and served 29,659 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
 


31 candidates file to run in New Hampshire’s largest school district

In New Hampshire, 31 candidates have filed to run for 14 seats on the Manchester School District school board. A primary is scheduled for September 17, and the general election is on November 5. The filing deadline for this election passed on July 19. The elections are nonpartisan.
 
Nine of 14 incumbents are running for re-election in 2019; in comparison, all 14 incumbents filed in 2017. Here’s who filed to run for each seat:
 
  • At-large: Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Hodgdon, Joseph Lachance, Gene Martin, James O’Connell, and Lara Quiroga are competing for the two at-large seats being vacated by incumbents Richard Girard and Patrick Long.
  • Ward 1: Amber Jodoin and James Porter are competing for the seat being vacated by incumbent Sarah Ambrogi.
  • Ward 2: Incumbent Kathleen Kelley Arnold is facing Sean Parr.
  • Ward 3: Incumbent Mary Ngwanda Georges is facing Karen Soule.
  • Ward 4: Incumbent Leslie Want is facing Mark Flanders.
  • Ward 5: Incumbent Lisa Freeman is facing Jeremy Dobson.
  • Ward 6: Incumbent Dan Bergeron is facing William Bergquist and Jon DiPietro.
  • Ward 7: Christopher Potter and William Shea are competing for the seat being vacated by incumbent Ross Terrio.
  • Ward 8: Incumbent Jimmy Lehoux is facing Peter Perich.
  • Ward 9: Incumbent Arthur Beaudry is facing Candace Moulton.
  • Ward 10: Incumbent John Avard is facing state Rep. Jane Beaulieu.
  • Ward 11: Brittany LeClear-Ping and Nicole Leapley are competing for the seat being vacated by incumbent Katie Desrochers.
  • Ward 12: Incumbent Kelley Anne Thomas is facing Andrew Toland.
 
The Manchester School District served 14,219 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
 


Recall initiated against Colorado state Sen. Pete Lee

An effort to recall Colorado state Sen. Pete Lee (D) was approved for circulation on July 12, 2019. Supporters have until September 10, 2019, to collect 11,304 signatures to force a recall election. Another recall petition targeting state Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D) received approval by the secretary of state on July 12 but it was withdrawn by petitioners three days later. According to the Denver Post, supporters have plans to resubmit the petition.
 
The recall petition targeting Lee was submitted by Scott David Fisher. Supporters have until September 10, 2019, to collect 11,304 signatures to force a recall election.
 
According to the recall petition, Lee is being targeted for recall because he supported legislation related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education during the 2019 legislative session. The firearms bill was designed to temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more control over regulating the industry and also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. The sex education bill updated the state’s curriculum for school districts that offer that education. The bill added instruction on such things as sexual orientation, consent, STDs, and pregnancy prevention. All four bills were signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis (D) in 2019.
 
After the recall was announced against Sen. Lee, he said: “I am disappointed that radical activists have decided to disrespect the voters of Senate District 11 and undermine the electoral process. I was elected eight months ago by 60% of the voters. To overturn the will of the people because of a disagreement on a couple of votes is inconsistent with our democratic process. They couldn’t defeat me in the election so they’re taking the back door of a recall.”
 
Gov. Polis is also facing an official recall campaign in 2019 over the same legislation as Sen. Lee. According to The Gazette, the Lee recall is being supported by the same group backing the recall against Gov. Polis. Two state representatives—Tom Sullivan (D) and Rochelle Galindo (D)—were also targeted by recall campaigns in 2019 due to the same legislation. The recall targeting Rep. Galindo (D) ended after she resigned her seat in May 2019. The recall targeting state Rep. Sullivan (D) ended in June 2019 after recall supporters concluded the effort. Unofficial recall campaigns are also underway against state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D), state Rep. Meg Froelich (D), state Rep. Bri Buentello (D), and state Sen. Leroy Garcia (D).
 
Lee was elected to the state Senate in 2018 with 62% of the vote. Prior to the 2018 election, Michael Merrifield (D) represented District 11 from 2015 to 2019.
 
Since 2011, 83 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 57 did not go to a vote, and eight are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019.
 
Additional reading:


Recall effort begins against Colorado Gov. Jared Polis

An effort to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) was approved for circulation on July 8, 2019. Supporters have until September 6, 2019, to collect 631,266 signatures to force a recall election.
 
The recall effort has been organized by a group called Dismiss Polis. According to Colorado Politics, the group is trying to recall Polis due to legislation that he signed during the 2019 state legislative session. The legislation includes a gun bill, an oil and gas regulation bill, as well as legislation related to the national popular vote. The gun bill was designed to temporarily remove guns from people who have been deemed a threat to themselves or others. The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more authority to regulate the industry and also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. Both bills were signed by Gov. Polis (D) in April 2019. Polis also signed legislation in March 2019 that would award Colorado’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.
 
After the recall was announced, Gov. Polis’ office issued the following statement: “The Governor is focused on governing for all of Colorado and ensuring that every Coloradan – no matter their zip code or political affiliation – has the opportunity to succeed. During his first six months in office, the Governor has created bipartisan solutions to lower the cost of health care, ensure every kid can go to free full-day kindergarten this fall, and cut taxes for small businesses. The Governor will continue to reach across the aisle and hopes that, by tackling key issues for Coloradans, we will continue to bring people together and focus on what unites us.”
 
Two state representatives—Tom Sullivan (D) and Rochelle Galindo (D)—were also targeted by recall campaigns in 2019 due to supporting the same legislation. The recall targeting Rep. Galindo (D) ended after she resigned her seat in May 2019. The recall targeting state Rep. Sullivan (D) ended in June 2019 after recall supporters concluded the effort. Unofficial recall campaigns are also underway against state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D), state Rep. Meg Froelich (D), state Rep. Bri Buentello (D), and state Sen. Leroy Garcia (D).
 
Since 2003, Ballotpedia has tracked 17 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled by voters in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, Wisconsin voted to retain Gov. Scott Walker (R) in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019. He won the 2018 election with 53.4% of the vote.
 


Filing deadline for Atlanta school board special election is July 10

Candidates interested in running in the Atlanta Public Schools school board special election for District 2 have until July 10 to file. The special election is on September 17. A runoff election, if needed, has been scheduled for October 15.
 
The special election became necessary after Byron Amos resigned his seat on January 29, 2019, to run for the Atlanta City Council. He lost in the April runoff election. Amos was first elected to the school board in 2011. The winner of the special election will fill Amos’ unexpired term, which ends in 2021.
 
As of July 5, the following seven candidates had declared their intention to run for the seat: Keisha Carey, Will Chandler, Paula Kupersmith, Chadd Jonesmith, Aretta Baldon, Davida Huntley, and Nathaniel Dyer.
 
Atlanta Public Schools served 60,133 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
 


16 candidates file to run in St. Petersburg city council races

Sixteen candidates have filed to run for four city council seats in St. Petersburg, Florida. A primary is scheduled for August 27, and the general election is on November 5. The filing deadline for this election was June 21.
 
District 1 incumbent Charlie Gerdes and District 5 incumbent Steve Kornell are both ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits. City council members serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms (eight years) in office.
 
Three candidates—Scott Orsini, Robert G. Blackmon, and John Hornbeck—have filed to run for the open seat in District 1. District 3 incumbent John “Ed” Montanari is running for re-election against Orlando A. Acosta and Zachary James Collins. In the open seat in District 5, six candidates—Anthony Cates, Philip Garrett, Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Trenia Cox, Beth Connor, and Anne Lenholt Hirsch—have filed to run. District 7 incumbent Lisa Wheeler-Bowman faces three challengers in her re-election bid. She will face Eritha Brandis Cainion, Chico Cromartie, and Sarah Elizabeth Moore in the primary.
 
St. Petersburg is the fifth-largest city in Florida and the 77th-largest city in the U.S. by population. In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering elections in 59 of America’s 100 largest cities by population.


Seven candidates running in Milwaukee special election include former state legislator

Candidates had until June 18 to file for a Milwaukee City Council special election for District 13. A primary is scheduled for July 16, and the general election is August 13.
 
Seven candidates filed by the deadline, including a former state assembly member, Josh Zepnick. The six other candidates are Patty Doherty, James Krickeberg, Jacob Krieg, Walt Love, Scott Spiker, and Patricia Torres Najera.
 
Zepnick lost his bid for re-election in 2018 following sexual misconduct allegations. He was removed from his committee assignments in 2017 by state Assembly leaders after The Capital Times reported that he had kissed two women without their consent in 2011 and 2015. Zepnick apologized and said the incidents were related to his alcohol consumption. He said, “While I have no recollection of these alleged incidents, there is never an excuse for inappropriate behavior. I take the claims seriously and respect the feelings of the women involved. I apologize to both women for my actions and for any distress that I may have caused.”
 
The special election became necessary following Alderman Terry Witkowski’s resignation on May 30, 2019. He had served on the city council since 2003.
 
Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin and the 30th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


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