RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — A bill that will unilaterally outlaw Virginia Beach’s current at-large hybrid voting system has been passed in the Virginia Senate and will head to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk.
The vote was 21-18 across party lines for Virginia Beach Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler’s H.B. 2198.
Before the vote, State Sen. Bill DesSteph (R-Virginia Beach) brought forward a floor substitute that would have required a referendum vote in the city, a move back backed by Mayor Bobby Dyer and several city council members.
It led to some spirited debate on the floor.
In filing the bill, Fowler said Virginia Beach’s current system that’s been in place for more than 50 years, which allows voters in the city to vote for all 11 council members even though seven of them represent specific districts, “disenfranchises voters” because a candidate could currently have the support of all the people in the district they represent, but lose the election.
However those in the business, tourism and agriculture communities have fought to keep the current system in place. Currently they have the ear of all of the council, but under the new district system they would only have five.
What does this mean for voters? They’ll be only electing 2 or 3 council members and school board members under the new system starting in 2022 — unless city council asks the General Assembly to switch them to an all-at-large system.
This is a breaking article and will be updated. Follow @BrettHNews for more updates.