Court: Virginia Beach Councilman David Nygaard Did Not Reside in District, Election Void
Former Councilman John Uhrin, defeated in November of last year by David Nygaard, filed a lawsuit alleging that Nygaard was not actually a resident of Beach District when he filed to run for the seat. A three-judge court in Virginia Beach agreed with Mr. Uhrin.
In an opinion letter dated March 5, 2019, the Court stated that, “Accordingly, upon consideration of the testimony, credibility of the witnesses, exhibits, and applicable law, today the court finds that Nygaard did not have the intent to establish residency at the 20th Street apartment, but only intended to acquire an address in order to run for City Council as a representative of the Beach District. Nygaard therefore did not satisfy residency requirements and was not eligible to run for that seat. As a result, in accordance with §24.2-812, the court declares that there has been no valid election of any person, the election of Nygaard is void, and the vacancy shall be filled in conformity with §§ 24.2-226 and 24.2-227.”
The judges also pointed out that Nygaard, “directed his staff to find an apartment outside of the Lynnhaven District…to establish residency,” and that he never actually intended to change his residency by moving into the apartment in Beach District. As further evidence of this, the opinion quotes a text message from Mr. Nygaard wherein he stated, “I just want to have a lease in hand. I’m using the residence to run for City Council. I’ll be living there part time when it’s ready.”
The next steps are relatively straightforward. The remaining members of the Virginia Beach City Council may appoint someone to represent the Beach District until a special election is held in November, or they will simply go forward without a representative in the seat until then. Former Councilman Uhrin has already expressed interest, per a tweet from WAVY reporter Andy Fox.
John Coker, who received nearly 16,000 votes in spite of withdrawing from the race, has informed me that he, too, would be interested in a potential appointment.
But don’t expect Nygaard to go away anytime soon. He also reached out to WAVY’s Andy Fox and stated, “We suffered a setback today. The court has ruled that I must vacate the Beach District. Soon a special election date will be set and I will be fighting to keep our seat at the table. Consider my hat already in the ring.”
Between this and longtime Senator Frank Wagner’s retirement announcement, it appears that Virginia Beach will have no shortage of political fun and games in November. Stay tuned for eight more months of As Virginia Beach Turns.