Trudy Berry makes her decision, launches write-in campaign

Published 5:18 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

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It looks like there will be a race for the 9th State Senate District seat after all. Trudy Berry announced this week that after a filing mistake cost her a chance to be on the ballot, she’s launching a write-in campaign. 

“After extensive consideration and uncertainty, I hereby announce that I am launching my Democratic write-in campaign to give all voters the opportunity to protect their rights and freedoms by giving them a Democratic choice on their ballot,” Berry said. The State Board of Elections “has refused to certify me as the duly nominated candidate for Senate District 9 and place my name on the ballot.”

The 9th Senate District encompasses the counties of Halifax, Pittsylvania, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, Prince Edward and Nottoway and the city of Danville. Republican Frank Ruff is the only other candidate currently running for the seat. 

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Berry has been fighting to get her name on the ballot since a typo in an email address left her filing paperwork incomplete.

Since that time Berry has hired an attorney to represent her in an appeal to the State Board of Elections to no avail. 

What happened to Trudy Berry?

In a letter to the State Board of Elections, Berry’s attorney Liz Burneson, said that local Democratic Party officials had given her assurances on April 3 that all the required paperwork for her candidacy would be submitted. However, Berry said she became aware of the party officials’ error on July 13 after the April 11 deadline for the document filing.

According to Berry, she was the only Democratic candidate who filed all the necessary paperwork in her district, which under normal circumstances would have automatically made her the Democratic nominee. 

However, Clem Oliver, a Danville Democratic leader who passed away last month after battling cancer, mistyped an email address when she attempted to file essential paperwork with the state officially declaring Berry the Democratic candidate.

“Because of a three-letter typo made by a woman who was gravely ill,” Burneson said. “That’s really an unconscionable result. And this board has the authority to avoid this unconscionable result.”

In emails to the Republican-controlled State Board of Elections, Berry has pointed out that the elections board gave other candidates consideration for mistakes outside of their direct control. 

In 2019, the board allowed House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, and Del. Clint Jenkins, D-Suffolk, to appear on the ballot after similar paperwork flubs by local party officials. In 2021, Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, received similarly lenient treatment from the board.

Berry said the same should be given to her. 

The decisions made in those cases occurred under Democratic-controlled boards.