By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
A petition drive seeking to sway Norfolk City Council from its decision on using wards to elect the school board has failed. The coalition of supporters did not collect the required number of signatures to do so, according to city officials.
According to Bernard Pishko, Norfolk’s City Attorney, the three-group coalition conducting the petition drive fell short by some 600 signatures.
The Norfolk Branch of the NAACP, along with education advocacy groups Together Norfolk Forward and Norfolk GAINS, needed 1600 signatures in order for the council to accept the petition and act on it.
On June 9, representatives from the groups turned in, according to Pishko, petitions, with only 1,250 signatures. The Norfolk Registrar’s office, early last week said only 1,000 of the signatures were viable.
Only Norfolk citizens who are registered voters could sign the petitions.
The coalition was seeking an alternate plan calling for board members to be elected from geographic districts, using the boundaries of the current wards.
Leaders of the groups said that if the council failed to respond to the petitions demands to drop the ward system for a plan they preferred, they would use a referendum to allow the citizens to do so.
The Norfolk City Council approved the ordinance adopting the use of ward to elect the school board January 27.