PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A judge on Thursday threw out a petition to remove Peterburg’s mayor and former mayor from office.
This came after a nearly hour-long court proceeding where the attorney for Mayor Samuel Parham and councilman Howard Myers said the signatures were not obtained properly.
The final decision to ask for a “non-suit decision” was actually proposed by the citizens who signed the petitions in the first place, because they could tell which way the judge was leaning.
What the decision boiled down to was when citizens signed the signature list, it was not attached to the actual petition which lists out the accusations against the Mayor Parham and council member Myers.
“I just want to continue to move forward with the process of helping our citizens move the city forward and continue to do the good work that we have done in the past and not based on the accusations and rumors that have been swirling for the last year,” Myers, the city’s former mayor, told 8News as he was leaving court.
“I always welcomed the process and wanted the facts to be heard and the facts were discovered here today,” Mayor Parham added.
But the facts discovered Thursday had nothing to do with the the actual allegations listed in the petition — those were allegations that Parham and Myers neglected, misused and showed incompetence in the performance of their official duties.
Parham still says all the allegations are a result of past elections.
“Elections are won in November and to use taxpayer dollars to replay those election results is hurting our city here, we have limited dollars,”Parham said.
Dollars that just last week, Parham and Myers voted to spend on their own personal attorney.
Barb Rudolph, founder of Clean Sweep Petersburg, the group largely behind the petitions, said the judge’s ruling was disappointing.
“The judge was clearly finding the form and the procedure of our petition to be lacking, which I certainly take full responsibility for that,” Rudolph said.
This decision doesn’t mean it’s over for good; citizens could recollect the signatures in the proper way and re-file. But will they?
“At this point, we are planning to do that, yes,” Rudolph said.
8News asked the City Attorney if the petitions were brought back, would council would have to vote again to cover the attorney costs for Parham and Myers? The attorney said it was possible there would be another vote but they could also argue the previous vote would already be sufficient.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.