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Mike Jones Off Ballot For Delegate Race, Requests Extension

Man laughs
Richmond City Councilmember Mike Jones at a 2019 City Council Meeting. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Richmond City Councilmember Mike Jones may have hit a fatal roadblock in his primary campaign against state Delegate Betsy Carr.

On Wednesday, the Virginia State Board of Elections told Jones that they had not received two necessary forms to get onto the primary ballot: a Certificate of Candidate Qualifications and Statement of Economic Interest. Even though the State Board of Elections voted to grant a deadline extension to candidates in 2019 and 2020, no one on the three-member board requested a vote at the meeting.

“What it means is I’m not on the ballot,” Jones told VPM on Thursday. “Ultimately, that’s what it means.”

According to Jones, he filed the paperwork with the Richmond General Registrar’s office on March 5, 20 days before the deadline. He did so, he says, because a trusted local elections official told him earlier this year that was the process.

It wasn’t until Wednesday, before the State Board of Elections meeting, that he was first alerted to problems with his candidacy paperwork. Jones said local Democratic Party officials had reached out to tell him that the General Registrar never forwarded the paperwork to the Virginia Department of Elections.

“I was told that I could place [the paperwork] there with them, thinking that it would get to the right place, and that was my mistake,” he said. “That was the mistake of my campaign.”

Jones said he is owning the mistake and doesn’t blame the Richmond General Registrar’s Office or anyone else. He is asking the State Board of Elections to grant an extension similar to what it did as recently as last year when it granted an extension to Republican Nick Freitas and nine other candidates.

“You gave it to these candidates last year, the year before that, and the year before that,” Jones said. “It was your practice and we’re just coming asking for what other people have received.”

While the board cannot grant extensions to a specific candidate, it could allow a blanket extension for all candidates running for state office. There are currently seven other candidates besides Jones that failed to properly file paperwork on time, including Democrat Matt Rogers in House District 47 and Republican Julie Perry in House District 86.

But an extension from the board does not seem likely. Board Chairman Robert Brink says he penned a letter to the state Democratic and Republican parties earlier this year, urging them to ensure all candidates meet state deadlines.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Brink repeated his opinion that the board should stop allowing candidates with late paperwork on the ballot.

“I’ve made my position pretty clear on this matter,” he said. “The failure of candidates to comply with the statutory requirements places this board in a very unfair position.”

After expressing his personal feelings on the issue, Brink asked the other board members — Jamilah Lecruise and John O’Bannon — if they wanted to request a vote on extending the paperwork deadline. No one responded and the board moved on.

A spokesperson for the Department of Elections told VPM: “There is always a possibility that the Board could reconsider their decision but we have no indication that they will do so at this time.”

Jones will continue to hold his seat as the 9th District representative on Richmond City Council. He said he is also now considering creating a collective or organization that can help prospective candidates for elected office get the right information and support.

“This is not as easy a process as one would think,” Jones said. “The ones who have access to the information are able to navigate these political waters, but for the ones that don’t? Good luck.”