Wednesday, December 6, 2023

City Council ‘candidates’ still battling in court — despite historic election recount

VIRGINIA BEACH — After the completion of this city’s historic election recounts, three City Council candidates continue to fight in court for what they believe is their rightful place in election history, with one candidate at the center of it all — Councilman-elect David Nygaard.

Nygaard is still fighting two legal challenges to his election win — both of which claim his residency does not sufficiently meet legal requirements, and that he is therefore not the legitimate election winner.

Related story: Multiple recounts in Virginia Beach a first in state’s history

Councilman John Uhrin’s Dec. 6 lawsuit asked the Circuit Court to disqualify Nygaard because of his allegedly not residing in the Beach District, and to certify Uhrin as the “rightful winner of the election” with “the next highest number of votes.”

A lawsuit from Richard “RK” Kowalewitch filed on Dec. 10 also asked the court to disqualify Nygaard and schedule a runoff election in which Uhrin and Kowalewitch — who placed second and third, respectively, in the November race against Nygaard — be the only two candidates permitted on the ballot.

Neither Kowalewitch nor Uhrin were immediately available for comment.

In legal responses to the lawsuits, Nygaard called for dismissal of both suits and remains adamant about the legitimacy of his Beach residence.

In his Dec. 21 legal response, Nygaard asked the court to dismiss Kowalewitch’s suit because Nygaard claims Kowalewitch filed his complaint past the 30-day filing deadline. Dec. 10 was 34 days past the Nov. 6 election.

Kowalewitch also filed a separate motion with the three-judge recount panel to join the recount between Uhrin and Nygaard. However, that motion was denied by all three judges on Dec. 14 before the recount commenced.

In a Dec. 13 interview with Southside Daily, Kowalewitch said he complained about Nygaard’s Beach residency to the office of Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle. A prosecutor from Stolle’s office investigated Kowalewitch’s claims about Nygaard’s residency and concluded there was insufficient evidence a crime had been committed by Nygaard.

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

Nygaard references Stolle’s investigation in his legal response to Uhrin’s lawsuit, and pushed back on Uhrin’s timing and motive.

“The issue (of Nygaard’s residency) was aired and vetted in the press regularly, and is a matter of public record,” wrote Nygaard’s attorney Dan Rogers in his legal response. “The voters had access to this, and took it into account” when they voted.

Rogers added: “one person who did not object to candidate Nygaard’s status was Petitioner John E. Uhrin.”

Nygaard’s response in court claimed Uhrin never questioned Nygaard’s candidacy because more candidates running against an incumbent such as Uhrin would make him stand out and more likely to win — and not because Uhrin “received numerous calls from citizens” about Mr. Nygaad’s residency “soon after the election.”

Nygaard claims disqualifying his election win would “in effect throw out nearly 50,000 votes,”

Nygaard said no court hearings have been set for either case.

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