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Virginia mayor Holley achieves dubious distinction: Most recalled politician in the United States

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July 14, 2010

PORTSMOUTH, Virginia: By a two-to-one margin, voters in Portsmouth, Virginia on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 gave soon-to-be-ex-mayor James Holley the dubious distinction of being the only politician in the United States currently known to have been recalled twice from office.[1]

The July 13 vote to remove Holley from his post as Mayor of Portsmouth was scheduled after over 9,000 signatures on recall petitions were submitted to election officials in early May 2010.[2][3] Holley had two years remaining on his current term as the city's mayor when the July 13 recall vote took place.[4] The term from which he has now been recalled was his fifth term as mayor.[3]

  • Votes to recall Holley: 10,721 (68%) Approveda
  • Votes to keep Holley: 5,154 (32%)

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."[3] The Virginian-Pilot also reported that the Portsmouth Cit 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."[6]

Holley was first recalled from his position as mayor of Portsmouth in 1987. At that time, he achieved his first dubious distinction as the first mayor in Virginia to be recalled.[6]

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