Losers In Virginia Beach Council Controversy
“If you ain’t first you’re last,” Ricky Bobby’s father in “Talladega Nights.”
Even when he wins, he loses.
Former Virginia Beach City Councilman John Uhrin, that is.
Last week he managed to prevail in a lawsuit. While still coming up empty-handed.
The guy is on a long-running losing streak.
A three-judge panel agreed with Urhin that newly elected Beach Councilman David Nygaard had indeed gamed the system to get on the fall ballot. The judges ruled that Nygaard was ineligible because there was evidence he didn’t intend to live in the Beach District when he filed his election paperwork.
With that, Nygaard was booted from City Council.
At the same time, the judges rejected the remedy Uhrin sought. They did not install him in the now-vacant seat.
It was a ridiculous request that had no chance of being granted.
Let’s back up for those with short memories. Incumbent John Uhrin - a reliable bucket boy for developers - had three opponents in the fall election.
A motley assortment.
I reluctantly endorsed R.K. Kowalewitch as the best of the odious lot.
Two of the four candidates had lost their businesses, the incumbent had brought the FBI to town to investigate his vote on the Cavalier project. Another candidate ran a low-energy campaign and quit before Election Day but stayed on the ballot.
Nygaard won with a tiny plurality of the vote.
But a whopping 67.21 percent of Beach voters agreed on one thing: They didn’t want John Uhrin.
After he lost the election Uhrin headed to court to challenge Nygaard’s residency. Something he could have done during the campaign but didn’t because he no doubt believed that the jeweler’s presence in the race boosted his chances of victory.
Uhrin’s lawsuit resulted in a disastrous two-day trial for Nygaard, who never bothered to appear. One of Nygaard’s lawyers, Gary Byler, told me last week that he advised the jeweler to stay away because he believed Uhrin’s attorney was setting “perjury traps” for the councilman.
So testimony that Nygaard wasn’t living in the house he rented in the district last spring - and only planned to live there part-time - was not adequately refuted.
With the seat now vacant, a placeholder will have to be appointed and a special election will be held in November.
As much as cronies on City Council would love to appoint Uhrin to the seat, they wouldn’t dare. Sixty seven percent, remember?
In a newspaper interview after the decision, Uhrin said he didn’t know if he’d run.
Seriously? After all that?
Then again, why would he? Uhrin barely campaigned last time. He reportedly missed a number of town hall meetings and debates and he ghosted voters west of Hilltop. This piece of political driftwood seemed to assume that the crowded field would send him back for another term on council in spite of a lackadaisical campaign and a record of dubious achievements.
Nygaard told the newspaper he intends to run again, although I’m not sure “Maybe I Wasn’t Living In The District Last Time But I Am Now” is a winning campaign slogan. Oh, and the other also-rans are making noise about joining the race.
The biggest loser in all this? The people of Virginia Beach. They deserve better.