City election officials say that earlier problems with slow-moving precinct counts are being resolved. But it still promises to be a long night. Workers started counting the more than 12,000 absentee ballots after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Some of the ballots were read by machine, but workers had to count others by hand.
The absentee ballots are especially crucial in the mayoral race, with districts 3 and 5 coming in tight. They could make the difference between a Mayor Dwight Jones, who just stepped into his party at the Paradise Lounge, or a Mayor Bill Pantele, who addressed his supporters earlier tonight about the close results. -- Scott Bass
To an intimate group of key, close campaign workers, a few family members and a handful of reporters, City Council President Bill Pantele has conceded the race for mayor of the city of Richmond to Delegate Dwight Jones.
"Richmond is going through a lot of changes," he says in his speech at the Holiday Inn on the Boulevard, and we had a historic election this election season. It's the first time we've had a real contested mayoral election. It was a hard-fought race. It was a clean race. At the conclusion of this race, the outcome was very, very close. ... Even understanding that there were a lot of ... absentee ballots to be counted," he says, he made the decision to call Jones to concede.
"I simply can't put the city of Richmond through a protracted battle. I've given it all that I have because of my love for this city."
In talking with Jones, Pantele says, "I committed to work with him ... to take this city forward. It's the right thing to do. Richmonders expect that of me."
Pantele, a lawyer, gave up his City Council seat to run for mayor, so he won't hold an elected citywide office for at least another four years. When asked, he says he isn't interested in holding a position in the Jones administration.
"My service to the city is not over. We'll see what comes down the pike in the appropriate time."
At Gallery5, about 175 people listened to Strike Anywhere while results rolled in. Jenny Friar, a nonprofit consultant, voted, but she declined to pull the lever for a mayoral candidate.
“I didn't vote for any mayoral candidates because I didn't like any of them. It was very hard on me not to, because I had such pride in the presidential candidate,” she says. “I wasn't in a mode for picking the least-worst candidate.”
Curtis Grinstead, the musical director at Gallery5, says he voted for Dwight Jones for mayor.
He's not Bill Pantele fan. “I don't care about the party patrol,” Grinstead says. “I would definitely not like to see him be mayor.” — Roberto Curtis
Richmond Voter Registrar Kirk Showalter says that her office's accounting of still outstanding ballots from Tuesday's election already has changed the mayoral race landscape.
After counting all in-person absentee votes for the Third District, that race now appears to be leaning -- just barely -- in favor of presumptive Mayor-elect Dwight Jones.
"That district now favors Jones by seven votes," Showalter says. Previously, election-night results showed Pantele carrying the district by a single vote.
And with 300 city-wide provisional ballots uncounted, and the vast majority of an additional 6,200-plus absentee ballots also yet to be tallied, there could be bigger results shifts yet to be realized, she says.
"I don't think the total votes cast is going to change much, but what could change is whether Mr. Jones in fact attained a majority in five of the Council districts," Showalter says, noting that failure to hold five of the nine districts would mean a run-off election in December. "If something shifts, that's the most likely shift. I always consider it up in the air until the final official results come in."
-- Chris Dovi
John Girardi with Bill Pantele's mayoral campaign has been roving the polls since they opened this morning. By noon, he expresses renewed confidence based on informal exit polling in the campaign beyond the 1st, 2nd and 4th districts, which were presumed by many as solid Pantele territory.
“Bill's looking real good in the 5th right now,” Girardi says. “It would be dangerous to assign numbers to it, but I won't say it's surprising.”
Across town at Toad's Place, the scene of this evening's planned Obama and Virginia Democratic rally, the scene is disarming. The front door is open, but doors to the club where tonight thousands likely will gather remain locked. Nobody is around save a few construction workers who are doing renovations in office space on the second floor of the club. -- Chris Dovi
Winners are marked with asterisks.
Paul Goldman (dropped out)
Robert J. Grey Jr.
*Dwight C. Jones*
William J. "Bill" Pantele
Lawrence E. Williams Sr.
*Bruce W. Tyler (uncontested)*
Tyron K. Bey
Patrick D. Kjellberg
*Charles R. Samuels*
Jonathan D. Davis
*Chris A. Hilbert*
*Katherine C. Graziano (uncontested)*
Mark E. Brandon
*E. Martin "Marty" Jewell*
S. Lee Shewmake
*Ellen F. Robertson (uncontested)*
*Delores L. McQuinn*
C. Allen Barrett
Eric W. Hunter Sr.
*Reva M. Trammell*
*Doug G. Conner Jr.*
Eugene A. Mason Jr.
Adrian R. Preston
*Kimberly M. Bridges (uncontested)*
*Kimberly B. "Kim" Gray*
Alice O. "Lisa" Dawson
*Norma H. Murdoch-Kitt (uncontested)*
Bert J. Berlin
John T. Lloyd
Jonathan C. Mallard
*Adria A. Graham Scott*
*Betsy B. Carr*
Otis E. Mallory
Art L. Burton
*Chandra H. Smith*
Ronald L. Bond
*Donald L. "Don" Coleman*
Torey J. Edmonds
*Dawn C. Page*
Charles D. Willis
*Evette L. Wilson (uncontested)*
The City Registrar's office continues to tabulate the results from the remaining 8,000 absentee ballots at 2:30 a.m., with no official word yet on whether Jones' slim lead will hold. One batch of absentees, released by Registrar Kirk Showalter just after 2 a.m., had Jones padding his lead over Bill Pantele by another 47 votes in the 3rd District, which would appear to solidify his mayoral victory.AÿBut that figure doesn't include a smaller batch of absentee ballots calculated earlier in the night.AÿJones appears to have already secured the hotly contested 5th District, winning the five districts needed to become Richmond's next mayor.
Official results are expected to be uploaded to the city's Web site later this morning.
Whoever becomes the new mayor will be dealing with a virtually identical City Council to the one that Mayor Wilder butted heads with.
With the results from most Richmond precincts in, it appears that all the incumbents will retain their seats, with one exception. In District 2, Charles R. Samuels seems to have a lock on the race, ahead of candidates Tyron K. Bey and Patrick D. Kjellberg. It was the only open seat
Voters stay in line at the voting precinct at
“No, it was one of those things where I actually thought we might have more people making an issue out of it but not really,” he says. “I think everyone wants the process to go smoothly. They don't want something where things will slow everyone down.”
Malou Rawls, a Democratic Party volunteer, was in front of the polling place handing out sample ballots.
“I'm actually passing these out for Bill Pantele, he's running for mayor,” says Rawls. “I went to his headquarters after I worked for Obama this morning.”
The turnout was diverse, says precinct worker Jennifer Dodge.
“It's very Democratic. … There's definitely a large numbers of African Americans that come here but it's very diverse," Rawls says. There's a lot of youths coming in and a very large number of middle-aged people coming in who's never voted before so that was exciting." -- Alexander Chang
At Southside Baptist Church on Ironbridge Road in Chesterfield County, this morning's long lines have shrunk.
“I'm not going to lie to you, it was a wait,” says Curtis Sink, the precinct's chief election official.
“The extreme side was three to three and half hours.” The long lines were the result of hundreds of voters who wanted to cast their ballots, not any mechanical problems.
At about 2 p.m., the line was short and things are moving speedily, with voting taking about 10 minutes. Still, Sink is expecting another “hit” this afternoon starting at about 4 p.m.
Election officials told him to prepare for a possible directive from the federal Department of Justice to extend voting hours, but he doesn't expect it or think it's necessary.
Meanwhile, voters are greeted with a sign posted inside Southside Baptist that reads, “Vote Now, Pray Later.” — Amy Biegelsen