Hill files contest in election

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 21, 2004

GREENSBORO – The race for the mayor’s seat is headed to court.

Vanessa Hill, who lost the race to J.B. Washington

by 90 votes, Monday filed an official contest to the election in Hale County Circuit Court about 3:50 p.m., edging out the 5 p.m. deadline to contest the outcome.

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“It’s tough. The loss did not affect me as much as it did many of my supporters. They were upset because they wanted a better life than they had under,” she said.

Hill carried the popular vote both in the Aug. 24 election and in the Sept. 14 run-off, but lost after absentee ballots were counted.

Her contest alleges illegal voting and offers to bribe, bribery, intimidation or other misconduct calculated to obstruct fair, free and the full exercise of the election francise – two of the reasons a candidate may contest the outcome of an election under Alabama law.

“We’ll definitely get a fair hearing,” she said late Monday afternoon. “We are planning to hire one of the best attorneys in the state.”

The decision on representation had not been made, but Hill said she had narrowed the field to just three possible attorneys.”

Pam Chism, executive director of Friends of Hale County, a philanthropic organization that conducts quality-of-life projects in the county, said the main objective for the day was get the contest filed in circuit court.

“We needed to get the form filed today and worry about the use of a particular lawyer after the fact,” she said.

Hill contends illegal votes were cast by absentee ballot in both elections, and that voters were intimidated to cast votes, both at the poll and by absentee ballot, in Washington’s favor.

Attorney General Troy King’s office has initiated an investigation into voter fraud in connection with mayor’s race.

In an e-mailed letter to her supporters and the media, Hill called the race “another stolen election.”

“It is a mystery to me how people can steal and call it a victory.

How these same people can go to church two and three times a week, and sometimes more, and try to fake God out, like they do humans. With chests of pride … [they] took advantage of the illiterate, the handicapped, and the old as they promised winos and drug addicts their same secured positions in life. They gave them false promises, meals and money in exchange for their future,” he letter stated.

Washington could not be reached for comment for this story.