James Holley recall, Portsmouth, Virginia, 2010

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A vote about whether to recall James Holley from his position as Mayor of Portsmouth, Virginia took place on Tuesday, July 13, 2010. Holley was recalled by the city's voters. The vote on July 13 to recall Holley is the second time Holley has been recalled by the voters in Portsmouth. He is believed to be the first politician in the United States to be recalled twice.[1][2][3]
  • Votes to recall Holley: 10,721 (68%) Approveda
  • Votes to keep Holley: 5,154 (32%)

The July 13, 2010 recall vote was scheduled after over 9,000 signatures on recall petitions were submitted to election officials in early May 2010.[4] Holley has two years remaining of his current term as the city's mayor.

The recall campaign was motivated by the allegation that Mayor Holley used a city assistant for personal tasks.[5] Local resident Dolores Knight, who began the recall effort, said,"It’s been a lot of people calling me. I just knew something needed to be done."[6]

On Tuesday, August 12, 2009, six City Council members called for Holley to retire. Holley, however, responded by saying, "I'm a statesman. I'll be here when the place goes down - I'm going down with it. When it goes up, I'm going up with it. All of that is predicated upon whether you want to keep me or not."[7]


The recall campaign began after the Virginian-Pilot reported that the council fined Holley $2,500 for allegedly mistreating assistants and asking them to perform personal tasks for him. In one instance, the mayor's personal assistant Lorraine Stokes said that the mayor had a asked her to perform approximately 44 personal tasks - listed here. To the accusations Holley said it was "probably a bad, bad decision that I made. I've been forgiven before, so I look forward to your forgiveness again."

In 1987, Holley became the first mayor in Virginia to be recalled.[7] He is currently serving his fifth term as mayor.[6]

Joe Wright, a civic leader who actively opposed the 1987 recall said that he would help Holley again in the 2010 effort, if asked. Wright also said, "I'm not going to say he's by himself, but the people are not as fired up about it, because most of the people really think it's time for him to step down."[8]

Path to the ballot

News report about signature filing
  • September 9, 2009: Organizers announce they've collected 500 signatures.[9]
  • November 2009: Recall supporters say they have more than 2,415 signatures.[10][6][6]
  • December 22, 2009: The group circulating the petitions had gathered 6,630 signatures, 38 signatures short of the required 6,668 needed to force a recall election.[11]
  • On February 12, the recall campaign announced that it had more than 8,200 signatures in hand.[12]
  • In early May, the recall group submitted over 9,000 signatures to election officials to force a recall vote.[13]
  • On May 10, Holley filed a formal challenge of the signatures. He questioned whether the signatures on the petitions were genuine, and whether those who signed the petition were qualified to sign it.[14]
  • On May 27, a sufficiency hearing took place to determine whether enough valid signatures were submitted to force a recall election.[15] The judge found that sufficient signatures had been submitted and ordered Holley to resign or face a recall election.[16]
  • June 4: The deadline by which Holley had to resign or face a recall election. Holley did not resign, thus setting up a recall election.[17]
  • July 13: Date that recall election took place.[18]

See also

External links


  1. Hampton Roads, "Voters recall Portsmouth mayor James Holley," July 14, 2010
  2. Hampton Roads, "Portsmouth City Council works around a subdued Holley," June 20, 2010
  3. Washington Examiner, "Voters oust Portsmouth mayor again," July 14, 2010
  4. Hampton Roads, "Judge sets July 13 date for Holley recall election," June 8, 2010
  5. The Virginian-Pilot, "Portsmouth Mayor Holley's apology changes nothing," August 13, 2009
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 The Virginian-Pilot, "Residents begin recall petition to oust Portsmouth mayor," September 1, 2009
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Virginian-Pilot, "Portsmouth mayor apologizes; council seeks resignation," August 12, 2009
  8. HamptonRoads.Com, "Holley appears to be on his own this time around," May 16, 2010
  9. WVEC, "About 500 signatures collected on Holley recall petitions," September 8, 2009 (dead link)
  10. The Virginian-Pilot, "Push to recall Portsmouth mayor gains momentum," November 4, 2009
  11. wvec.com, "Deadline set for Portsmouth mayor recall," December 22, 2009
  12. Virginian-Pilot, "Effort to recall Mayor Holley nears decisive stage," February 12, 2010
  13. Associated Press, "Residents seek recall of Portsmouth mayor, VA" (dead link)
  14. HamptonRoads.Com, "Mayor Holley challenges Portsmouth recall effort," May 12, 2010
  15. HamptonRoads.Com, "Time ticking for Holley to recall," May 13, 2010
  16. Times Dispatch, "News Near Your," May 28, 2010 (dead link)
  17. Hampton Roads, "Portsmouth mayor doesn't resign, setting up recall election," June 5, 2010
  18. WAVY.com, "Legal questions surface," June 2, 2010