On-and-off Richmond School Board candidate Tichi Pinkney Eppes is on again — the official ballot that is. U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson yesterday issued an order that places Pinkney Eppes on November’s ballot, eliminating the need for her to undertake a massive write-in campaign.
“Basically, the electoral board of Richmond and the state had to concede that she had 125 signatures,” says Paul Goldman, an attorney who was part of the team representing Pinkney Eppes. “This could have been resolved in 15 or 30 minutes — we didn’t have to go to a lawsuit like this, to expensive litigation — but everybody refused.”
According to Hudson's order, the state and city both agreed to place Pinkney Eppes on the ballot, thus removing the need for him to further review the statute.
But going forward, Goldman says, “I think everybody concedes that we need legislation to fix the problem. The failure to have an appeal in the process is a significant and fundamental flaw in the system.”
That legislation likely will be submitted in the upcoming General Assembly session by Goldman’s partner, Del. Joe Morrissey, Goldman syas. Morrissey represents part of Henrico and Richmond, and also helped represent Pinkney Eppes, along with Tony Troy from Troutman Sanders, who served as lead counsel.
Morrissey continues to represent Richmond mayoral candidate Michael Ryan, whose bid to challenge Mayor Dwight Jones was denied after, as in the case of Pinkney Eppes, the Richmond registrar’s office failed to certify a number of his petition signatures.
According to Goldman, this marks the first time any candidate in Virginia has been put on the ballot after their petition signatures were initially denied.
Pinkney Eppes says she's elated to have the state and city registrar's earlier determination reversed.
"Now I don't have to teach people that my 'Eppes' has two 'e's' in it," she says, noting that despite the possibility of having to run as a write-in, she's continued to conduct her campaign as if she was already on the ballot. "I'm staying on top of it. I filed my [July campaign finance disclosure] in July just like everybody else."
Eppes says the biggest disappointment about the entire affair is that it could have been resolved without any court drama — or cost. "It's really unfortunate that at the end of the day the taxpayer is going to have to pay."
Pinkney Eppes now is the only official candidate for the 9th District School Board seat, as current board member Evette Wilson is stepping down.
(This story has been updated since its initial post)