Friday, April 19, 2024

City councilman sues opponent, alleging he did not live in district

VIRGINIA BEACH — A City Councilman who lost his bid for reelection in November filed a lawsuit, claiming his opponent did not live in the district where he ran for City Council, according to court documents.

Beach Councilman John Uhrin filed the lawsuit Thursday, asking a judge to declare Uhrin the rightful winner of the election because David Nygaard was unqualified to run as Beach District representative due to allegedly not living in that district.

The lawsuit asks the Circuit Court to certify Uhrin “as the recipient of the next highest number of votes,” and that Uhrin be declared “the rightful winner of the election.”

In response to the lawsuit, Nygaard said he believes Uhrin’s lawsuit is “seeking to disenfranchise 48,000 voters and overturn the will of the people” and is “asking a judge to achieve what he could not achieve on Election Day.”

Related story: City wants different voting machines used for recount. Not everyone is on board

The lawsuit alleges Nygaard actually lives in the Lynnhaven District with his father, and rented an apartment at the Oceanfront in order to qualify to run for City Council in the Beach District.

“I am unable to verify these issues on my own,” Uhrin said, “and therefore will follow the remedies available to ensure that the Beach District is represented by someone who was a resident of the Beach District when he registered and ran for the District seat on City Council.”

Uhrin and Nygaard are also involved in a recount for their Beach District contest. Nygaard narrowly won the election by 200 votes.

Virginia Beach Attorney Gary Byler, who is representing Councilman John Moss and Louis Jones in separate election recounts, said he doesn’t think much of the lawsuit.

“Any voter who chose to be informed on the matter, was informed on the matter,” Byler said. “It’s already been covered.”

The issue of Nygaard’s residency has been discussed publicly since July.

There were extensive online discussions in a Facebook group called “Vintage North End Virginia Beach an Illustrated History Archive,” in which Nygaard defended the legitimacy of his residency.

There was also an Oct. 1 letter from Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle to the city’s General Registrar Donna Patterson. Stolle investigated Nygaard’s residency and declared in the letter that there was “insufficient evidence to prove that a crime has been committed” and that “no further action” was needed.

It remains unclear why Uhrin waited until after the election to file his lawsuit, or what he will do if the recount ended in his favor.

“Happy to answer those questions after the litigation is resolved,” Uhrin said.

In an emailed statement, Nygaard remained adamant that the system would affirm his November victory over Uhrin.

“After the canvass I had the most votes and was certified the winner,” Nygaard said. “I am confident after the recount that I will still have the most votes. We are fully confident the judges will see this for what it is, a crass political stunt.”

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