RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia House of Delegates and Senate have now both approved legislation that will move local elections from May to November.
SB 1157 from Virginia State Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake) passed through both chambers by narrow margins. The House approved the bill 50 to 44 on Monday, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax had to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.
The voting was on party lines, with Democrats in favor. Though House Democrats Angelia Williams Graves (who represents parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach) and Martha Mugler (who represents parts of Hampton, Poquoson and York County) abstained from voting on Monday after Norfolk and Hampton came out against the move.
A majority of the mayors in Hampton Roads didn’t support the bill, saying they like the way things are currently. They said May elections keep local races (mayor, city council, school board, etc.) from getting overshadowed by national races, and keep things from being partisan.
The bill would affect 16 cities and more than 100 towns across Virginia, including Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Franklin, which all hold elections on the first Tuesday in May every other year.
It’s still not entirely certain if Gov. Ralph Northam will sign the legislation, but it is likely. Northam expressed frustration last year when the Senate didn’t approve his budget amendment to move municipal elections from May to November because of the pandemic.
Local elections would move starting in 2022.