PE Given A Green Light

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2011

PRINCE EDWARD – The lines have been drawn and the redistricting plan set and, now, with the June 8 letter from the U.S. Justice Department in hand, scheduled August 22 party primaries are on track.

And there will be both a Democratic Party and a Republican Party Primary in some areas of the County.

Republican voters will have five prospective candidates to choose from to compete for the newly-created 22nd State Senatorial District. The new district stretches from Goochland to Lynchburg and includes Prince Edward County. Those vying for the party's nomination include Longwood University Professor and Buckingham Supervisor Brian Bates, attorney Mark Peake from Lynchburg, a prosecutor with the Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney's office Bryan Rhode, Louisa County Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Garrett Jr. and Claudia Tucker, the Amherst Board of Supervisors Chairwoman and Senior Director of State Government Affairs for Medco Health Solutions.

The winner will earn the right to be on the November ballot representing the Republican Party.

Voters in Prince Edward's Second and Eighth districts will have contested Democratic Party primaries. In the Second, or Lockett District, incumbent Robert “Bobby” Jones will square off with challenger Deborah Hicks-Shealey. Eighth District or Farmville District 801 party voters will also have a choice between incumbent Mattie Wiley and challenger Pattie Cooper-Jones, who previously served on the board.

As the law currently stands, voters in districts where there is more than one primary may only participate in one, not both. So voters in the second and eighth districts of Prince Edward County would have to choose to participate in either the Republican primary for the 22nd Senatorial District or the Democratic primary for that district's seat on the board of supervisors.

The letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, dated June 8, states: “The Attorney General does not interpose any objection to the specified change.”

That effectively green lights the primary.

“It means we can go ahead and start changing our lines and getting set,” Prince Edward Voter Registrar Dale Bolt said of receiving pre-clearance. “…You have to have pre-clearance before you can hold a primary. If you don't have your pre-clearance…if it's not done in time you would have to delay your primary.”

New voter cards will soon be on their way (expected the first week of August). The deadline to register in time to participate in the primary is August 1; absentee voting is expected to start July 8. (Those who wish to do so when absentee voting starts can stop by for a visit at the registrar's office in the County's courthouse.)

While the August 22 primary will settle who will be the party's candidate where there are internally contested races, it may not finalize the field of candidates. Parties have until August 23 to nominate candidates other than through a primary. Those seeking to run as an independent, or non-party affiliated candidate, also have until 7 p.m. August 23.