The Virginia State Conference NAACP (Virginia NAACP) held a press conference today urging the House of Delegates to pass HB 416 Amending the Virginia Beach Charter of the transition of the City Council from at large to single member and mayor. Rev. Cozy Bailey, Virginia NAACP President, was joined by Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler, HD 96; Senator Aaron Rouse, SD 22; Delegate Alex Askew, HD 95; Delegate Michael Feggans, HD 97; and Delegate Marcia Price, HD 85. Also present were Gaylene Kanoyton, Regional Vice President for the Virginia NAACP; Dr. Eric Majette, Virginia Brach Branch President; Jennifer Rouse, Virginia Beach Councilwoman; and David Hutchins, Virginia Beach Councilman.
Virginia NAACP President Rev. Cozy Bailey issued the following remarks:
“House Bill 416 amends the Virginia Beach Charter of the transition of the City Council from at large to single member and mayor. The new structure is sometimes referred to as 10-1, indicating the magisterial districts and the mayor. Virginia NAACP advocates for fair and equal representation across localities, and we believe this structure better serves all residents of Virginia Beach.
The NAACP envisions an inclusive community based on liberation, where all persons can exercise their human and civil rights without discrimination. In our democratic republic, the franchise of voting is a preeminent civil right. Voting rights have been a central part of this country’s civil rights movement from the very beginning. And, of course, the heart of democracy is that every person has an equal voice in the government. The supporting infrastructure, the laws, and ordinances in place must be flexible and responsive to the evolving needs of the people as well as the changing demographics. In the case of Virginia Beach, 81% of the population determined that a change in the voting structure was required to maintain equal, equitable, and fair representation. In other words, the prevailing charter no longer represented the will of the people. That, in essence, is what HB 416 is about.
I want to make it clear that while the NAACP stands in solidarity with the people of Virginia Beach, the implications of not passing HB 416 transcend that singular community. Voting rights are the bedrock of a democratic republic. The resilience of this form of government is that periodically, a review is necessary to determine if there are impediments to this and other basic civil rights. In Virginia Beach, 81% of the residents said there is time for change. It is incumbent on the legislature and this and future administrations to keep a listening ear throughout the Commonwealth and be responsive to the will and the needs of the people. To recognize the need for modifying and updating the laws and statutes that form the basis for our government to reflect equality, equity, and fairness to all people.”
Delegate Barry Knight, HD 98, and Delegate Anne Ferrell Tata, HD 99, were invited to attend.
Citizens across the Commonwealth are invited to join the Virginia NAACP in contacting their delegates and urging them to pass HB 416 by clicking this link.
The Virginia NAACP will continue to advocate for fair and equal representation across localities.