Councilwomans Voting Validity Upheld

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One half of the two-pronged inquiry into Councilwoman Alicia Hughes (R) eligibility to hold public office in the city ended last Thursday when Alexandria General Registrar Tom Parkins concluded that she was a legitimate registered voter in the city.

The hearing was held after attorney J. Gerald Hebert, commissioned by three residents tied to the Democratic party, wrote city officials alleging that Hughes residency, voting eligibility and therefore candidacy were illegitimate based on her tax records displaying ownership of a home in Baltimore and Maryland voting records indicating she is a registered voter there.

The scope of the hearing was narrow, stretching back to June 19 the date Hebert sent the complaint to the Alexandria Electoral Board, City Attorney James L. Banks and Commonwealths Attorney Randy Sengel and could not take into account whether Hughes was eligible before then, according to Virginia law.

Parkins heard testimony from Heberts side and saw Maryland tax records citing her primary residence, as a house in Baltimore, while Hebert asked Hughes questions relating to her residency, some of which were objected to by Hughes and her lawyer.

Hughes, whose attorney was State Senator Jill Vogel (R-27), displayed documents relating to her Yoakum Parkway home, and was found by a preponderance of the evidence that Hughes presently resides, maintains a place of abode in, and has the present intention of remaining a resident with a place of abode in the City of Alexandria, Parkins wrote in his decision.

He continued, Accordingly, I determine that Ms. Hughes is validly registered in the City of Alexandria.

The accusers have the right to appeal the decision, but They have not decided yet, Hebert said, whether to bring the matter to the Alexandria Circuit Court.

But the inquiry was also sent to Sengel, the citys prosecutor, who is currently investigating possible criminal matters; Heberts original letter alleged that Hughes could have made false material statements in declaring her candidacy on forms in the past.

I cannot comment on the specifics of Mr. Heberts complaint, Sengel said in a prepared statement two weeks ago. But it is the case that various forms that any candidate is required to file in seeking elected office contain warnings that the making of a false statement on such forms is a felony offense.

Any complaint of that nature regarding a candidate for office in Alexandria is within the jurisdiction of my office, and we have a statutory responsibility to make inquiry, and will do so when such a complaint is received.

Sengel said Wednesday that the investigation is active, but there is no indication of when it will be complete.

I dont have a timetable, he said. I dont set timetables.

Hughes was officially sworn in as a member of City Council Wednesday night.

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