Ruling ignored at council meeting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Monday night, Circuit Court Judge William Shashy declared Vanessa Hill the rightful mayor of Greensboro.

But Tuesday night, J.B. Washington was in the mayor’s seat at the Greensboro City Council meeting to carry out a short meeting agenda. The decision setting aside the city’s Sept 14, 2004 mayoral election results was not mentioned.

After working through a short agenda, Washington said he was weighing his options after Shashy threw out almost 150 absentee ballots cast in his favor, which experts determined were cast “illegally.”

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“We are disappointed, but not surprised. We kind of knew it would happen,” Washington said. “I’m going to talk to my lawyer (William Pompey of Camden) and we will appeal. So we’ll just have to wait and see.”

After identifying ballots with forged signatures, lack of voter identification and absence of postmarks, Shashy threw out 148 absentee ballots for Washington, making the final vote 664-614 in Hill’s favor.

Hill – who was declared the election winner by 50 votes – did not attend the meeting. In 2004, she ran on a platform of economic revitalization and improvements to the city’s standard of living. She is the daughter of “self-employed construction worker” A.C. Hill, who “built or repaired most of homes here in Greensboro,” she said.

“He and his family pretty much helped to build this town,” she added.

Perry Beasley, the co-chairman of the Democracy Defense League, a grassroots advocacy organization which worked to build public interest in the election challenge, said it was good to see justice done at last.

In a letter to newspapers across the region and state, he thanked and congratulated DDL members, who “worked so hard and diligently to achieve this victory over a corrupt election.”

At the council meeting Tuesday night, though, Washington disputed the justice of Shashy’s ruling.

“Maybe we can find due process in the appeal process,” the disputed mayor said.

The five members of the Greensboro City Council, as well as city employees present at the meeting, declined to comment on the ruling.

During the meeting, discussion focused on the mundane issues of city government.

After talks of replacing light fixtures throughout the city, a motion was passed to make the final decision at a workshop on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m.

Washington also praised the work the construction team did on the Greensboro walking trail project and said he hopes it will be completed by spring.

The next city council meeting will be Feb. 14 at 6 p.m.