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    Home » Chapter 4. Elections, Oaths of Office and Bonds*

    Chapter 4. Elections, Oaths of Office and Bonds*

     

    *Code references—Officers and employees, generally, § 2–79; elections, Ch. 2.
     
    State law reference—Elections, Code of Virginia, Tit. 24.1.
     
     
    Sec. 17. Time of holding popular elections.
     
    The election of all the municipal officers who are chosen by the vote of the people shall be held at the intervals and on the days prescribed for such elections by the laws of the state.
     
    State law reference—See Code of Virginia, § 24.1 et seq.
     
     
    Sec. 18. Manner of filling vacancies in elective offices.
     
    In case of a vacancy arising in any elective municipal office hereinafter mentioned, except as otherwise provided, it shall be the duty of the council to certify the same to the judge of the corporation court, who shall issue his writ for an election to fill such vacancy in the manner prescribed by the general election laws of the state.
     
    State law reference—See Code of Virginia, § 24.1 et seq.
     
     
    Sec. 19. Special elections for objects not provided for by general election laws.
     
    Whenever any special election shall be ordered by the city council for any object not provided for in the general election laws of the state, they shall communicate their order for the same to the judge of the corporation court, and the same proceedings shall be had by it as are provided by law for special elections to fill vacancies in any elective municipal office.
     
    INITIATIVE
     
     
    Sec. 19.1. Procedure.
     
    Subject to the exceptions set out hereinafter in Section 19.8, any proposed ordinance or ordinances, including ordinances for the repeal or amendment of an existing ordinance, may be submitted to the council by petition signed by voters equal in number to ten percent of the number of voters duly registered on January 1 of the year of the petition.
     
    The execution of the petition by a registered voter shall be acknowledged by him, or it may be proved by the oath of a witness who shall swear on information and belief that he knows the registered voter and that the petition was signed by the registered voter in the presence of the witness. The petition may be in the form of separate sheets, each sheet containing at the top thereof the petition as set forth above, and when bound together and offered for filing, shall be deemed to constitute one petition. Such petition shall contain the proposed ordinance in full, and shall have appended thereto or written thereon the names and addresses of at least five voters who shall be officially regarded as filing the petition, and who shall constitute a committee of petitioners for the purposes hereinafter stated. An affidavit signed by the committee of petitioners shall be attached to the petition stating the date the petition was first circulated.
     
    All papers comprising the petition shall be assembled and filed with the clerk of the council, as one instrument, within 120 days from the date stated in the affidavit that the petition was first circulated. Within fifteen days of the date the petition is filed, the clerk shall have the general registrar of the city certify that the petition has the number of signatures of registered voters required to meet the above mentioned percentage. After the general registrar has certified that the number of signatures of registered voters meets the required percentage, the clerk shall submit the petition to the council at its next regular meeting, and provisions shall be made for public hearing upon the proposed ordinance. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.2. Petition for election.
     
    The council shall at once proceed to consider such petition and shall take final action thereon within sixty days from the date of the submission thereof. If the council rejects the proposed ordinance, or passes it in a form different from that set forth in the petition, or fails to act finally upon it within the time stated, the committee of petitioners may require that it be submitted in its original form, or that it be submitted with any proposed change, addition, or amendment, to a vote of the voters by the following procedure: The committee shall present to the clerk of the circuit court of the city a petition for such election, addressed to the court and signed by voters equal in number to fifteen percent of the number of voters duly registered on January 1 of the year of the petition. The petition shall contain the proposed ordinance in full in the form in which it is to be submitted to the voters. The petition and all copies thereof shall be filed with the clerk as one instrument. Within fifteen days after the filing thereof, the clerk shall examine the same and ascertain and certify thereon whether the persons whose names are signed thereto are voters of the city, equal to the number required. However, the clerk of the circuit court shall have the general registrar certify which names on a petition are registered voters before certifying any petition himself. The general registrar and the clerk of the circuit court shall make their certifications within fifteen days of the date of filing. If it be found that the required number of voters have signed the petition, then the petition, with the certificate of the clerk thereon, shall be presented by the committee to the circuit court of the city, and thereupon the court shall forthwith enter an order calling and fixing a date for holding an election for the purpose of submitting the proposed ordinance to the voters of the city. Any such election shall be in accordance with Section 24.1-165 of the Code of Virginia. At least ten days before any such election, the clerk of the circuit court shall cause such proposed ordinance to be published once in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the city. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.3. Ballots and effect of voting.
     
    The ballots at such election shall conform to Section 24.1-165 of the Code of Virginia. With respect to each ordinance whose adoption, amendment, or repeal is sought, the following question shall be submitted: "Shall the ordinance entitled (title of ordinance) be (either adopted, amended or repealed, as appropriate)?"
     
    If a majority of the voters voting on such proposed ordinance shall vote in favor thereof, the proposed ordinance shall, upon the ascertainment and certification of the results of such election as in other special elections, become an ordinance of the city. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.4. Ordinances adopted by the voters; how amended or repealed.
     
    No ordinance adopted by a vote of the voters, as herein provided, shall be repealed or amended, except by a vote of the voters; but the circuit court of the city, on request of the council, by resolution, may order that a proposed ordinance repealing or amending any ordinance so adopted be submitted to the voters of any election, or any special municipal election called for some other purpose, if in accordance with the provisions of Section 24.1-165 of the Code of Virginia, provided that the clerk of the circuit court shall cause notice of the submission of such proposed ordinance repealing or amending such ordinance to be published once in one or more newspapers of the city not less than ten days prior to the election. If an amendment is proposed, the notice shall contain the proposed amendment in full, and the ballot shall be in the same form and the vote shall have the same effect as in the case of an ordinance submitted to election by popular petition. The ballots and effect of voting shall be as provided in Section 19.3 of this chapter. (Acts 1983, ch. 398)
     
     
     
    REFERENDUM
     
     
    Sec. 19.5. Petition for referendum.
     
    Subject to the exceptions set out hereinafter in Section 19.8, if at any time within a thirty-day period following the adoption of an ordinance, a petition, signed by voters equal in number to fifteen percent of the number of voters duly registered on January 1 of the year of the petition, be filed with the clerk of the council, requesting that any such ordinance be repealed or amended as stated in the petition, such ordinance shall not become operative until the steps indicated herein shall have been taken or the time allowed for taking such steps shall have elapsed without action. Such petition shall state therein the names and addresses of at least five registered voters, who shall be officially regarded as filing the petition, and who shall constitute a committee of petitioners for the purposes hereinafter stated. Referendum petitions shall contain the text of the ordinance or ordinances, the amendment or repeal of which is sought, and shall contain the proposed amendment, if an amendment is demanded. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.6. Procedures.
     
    The clerk of the council shall present the petition to the council at its next regular meeting, and thereupon the council shall consider the ordinance. If, within sixty days after the filing of such petition, the ordinance is not repealed or amended as requested in such petition, the clerk of the council, if so requested by a writing signed by a majority of the committee and presented to the clerk of the council within twenty days after the expiration of sixty days, shall present to the clerk of the circuit court of the city, the petition and all copies thereof as one instrument, together with a copy of the ordinance, the repeal or amendment of which is sought. The clerk of the circuit court of the city shall examine the petition and ascertain and certify thereon whether the persons whose names are signed thereto are registered voters of the city, equal in number to fifteen percent of the number of voters duly registered as of January 1 of the year of the petition; provided, however, the clerk of the circuit court shall have the general registrar certify which names on the petition are registered voters before certifying any petition himself. The general registrar and the clerk of the circuit court shall make their certifications within fifteen days of the date of filing. If such signatures do amount to such percentage, the committee shall present the petition to the circuit court of the city, and thereupon the court shall forthwith enter an order calling and fixing a date for holding an election for the purpose of submitting the ordinance to the voters of the city. Thereupon the ordinance shall ipso facto be further suspended from going into effect until the election shall have been held and shall then be deemed repealed or amended upon the approval by a majority of those voting thereon. Any such election shall be held in accordance with Section 24.1-165 of the Code of Virginia. At least ten days before any such election, the clerk of the court shall cause the ordinance to be published once in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the city.
     
    The ballots used when voting upon such ordinance shall conform in all respects to the ballots required for an initiative election under Section 19.3 hereof, and the method of voting in any such election shall be as prescribed in that section.
     
    If in any such election the ordinance so referred or submitted be approved by a majority of the voters voting thereon, the ordinance shall, upon the ascertainment and certification of the results of such election as in other special elections, go into effect as an ordinance of the city. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.7. Conflict of ordinances.
     
    If two or more ordinances adopted or approved at the same election conflict in respect to any of their provisions, such ordinances shall go into effect in respect to such of their provisions as are not in conflict, and the one receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail insofar as their provisions conflict. (Acts 1982, ch. 398.)
     
     
    Sec. 19.8. Measures not subject to initiative or referendum.
     
    Ordinances passed providing for any work, improvement or repair certified by the city manager to be immediately necessary to protect public safety, public property, health or morals from imminent danger or protect the city from imminent loss or liability, shall not be subject to such referendum. The certificate of the city manager in any such case shall be conclusive. No ordinance concerning revenue levies, expenditures, zoning, or any administrative act shall be subject to initiative or referendum. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
     
    RECALL
     
     
    Sec. 19.9. Procedure.
     
    Any member of the council may be recalled and removed from office by the voters by the following procedure: A petition for the recall of the member or members designated, signed by voters equal in number to at least ten percent of the number of voters duly registered on January 1 of the year of the petition eligible to vote for the member or members sought to be recalled, and containing a statement of factual reasons of not more than 200 words of the grounds of the recall, shall be filed with the clerk of the council. Within fifteen days of the date such petition was filed, the clerk shall have the general registrar of the city certify that the petition has the number of signatures of voters required to meet the above mentioned percentage. If the petition contains the required number of signatures, the clerk shall forthwith notify the member or members sought to be removed, and such member or members may, within ten days after such notice, file with the clerk a defensive statement of not more than 200 words. The clerk shall, immediately upon the expiration of ten days, cause sufficient printed or typewritten copies of such petition, without the signatures, to be made, and to each of them he shall attach a printed or typewritten copy of such defensive statement or statements, if any such shall have been furnished him within the time provided. He shall preserve the original petition and any defensive statements in his office. He shall cause a copy of such petition, with a copy of any defensive statements, to be placed in the office of the general registrar of the city who shall provide facilities for signing the petition and for the proper custody thereof. The clerk shall immediately cause notice to be published in some newspaper of general circulation in the city of the place where the copies may be found and of the time in which the same may be signed.
     
    The petition shall remain on file in the place designated for a period of thirty days, during which time it may be signed by voters of the city, including those who signed the original petition.
     
    At the expiration of the period of thirty days, the clerk shall assemble all of the copies, and shall file the same as one instrument with the clerk of the circuit court of the city who shall examine the same and ascertain and certify thereon whether the persons whose names are signed thereto are voters of the city, equal in number to fifteen percent of the number of voters duly registered on January 1 of the year of the petition; however, the clerk of the circuit court shall have the general registrar certify which names on the petition are voters before certifying any petition himself. The general registrar and the clerk of the circuit court shall make their certifications within fifteen days of the date of filing. If such signatures do amount to such percentage, the clerk of the circuit court of the city shall at once serve notice of that fact upon the member or members designated in the petition. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.10. Recall election.
     
    If the member or members, or any of them, designated in such petition file with the clerk of the council, within five days after the last mentioned notice from the clerk of the circuit court of the city, his or their written resignation or resignations, the clerk of the council shall at once notify the clerk of the circuit court of the city of that fact, and such resignation or resignations shall be irrevocable and shall be filed and preserved in the offices of the clerk of the council; and the council shall proceed to fill the vacancy or vacancies, subject to the provisions of Section 5 of this Charter. In the absence of notice from the clerk of the council that such resignation or resignations have been filed, as aforesaid, the clerk of the circuit court of the city shall, upon the expiration of the period of five days, forthwith present to the court the copies with his certificate as to the percentage of voters whose names are signed thereto, and a certificate as to the date of the service of the notice given by him to the member or members designated in the petition, as above provided. And, thereupon, the court shall forthwith enter an order calling and fixing a date for holding a recall election for the removal of the member or members named in the petition who have not resigned as aforesaid. Any such election shall be held in accordance with the provisions of Section 24.1-165 of the Code of Virginia. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.11. Ballots and effect of voting.
     
    The ballots of such recall election shall provide, with respect to each person whose removal is sought, the following question: "Shall (name a person) be removed from the office of councilman by recall?"
     
    In all other respects the election shall be held in accordance with general law.
     
    In any election, if the majority of the votes cast on the question of the removal of any member are affirmative, such member shall be deemed removed from office upon the ascertainment and certification of the results of such election as in other special elections, and the vacancy or vacancies caused by such recall shall be filled by the remainder of the council, according to the provisions of Section 5 of this charter. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.12. Effect of resignations pending proceedings for the recall of the whole council.
     
    No proceedings for the recall of all of the members of the council at the same election shall be defeated in whole or in part by the resignation of any of them or all of them; but in any such case upon the resignation of any of them, the remaining members of council or if a majority of the members of council resign, then the circuit court, as provided for in Section 15.1-808 of the Code of Virginia (1950), as amended, shall have the power, and it shall be their duty or the court's duty, as the case may be, forthwith to fill such vacancy or vacancies temporarily until successors are elected, and the proceedings for the recall and the election of successors shall continue and have the same effect as though there had been no resignation. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.13. Miscellaneous provisions.
     
    No petition to recall any member shall be filed within one year after he assumes the duties of his office.
     
    The method of removal herein provided shall not be deemed or held to be exclusive, but it is in addition to such other methods as are now or may hereafter be provided by general law. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
     
    GENERAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM AND RECALL
     
     
    Sec. 19.14. Elections.
     
    All municipal elections shall be conducted and the results canvassed and certified by the regular election officials provided by the general election laws of the Commonwealth; and except as otherwise provided by this charter, all such elections shall be governed by the general election laws. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.15. Petitions.
     
    All petitions referred to in this charter shall be signed in ink or indelible pencil by the voter in person and not by agent or attorney. Each person signing street and number. The signatures to any such petition need not all be appended to one paper, but to each such paper (except in the case of copies of recall petitions, which may not be circulated) there shall be attached an affidavit by the circulator thereto stating that each signature appended thereto is the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be and that it was made in the presence of the affiant. All copies of any such petition shall be treated as originals. No such petition shall be deemed invalid by reason of the fact that it is signed by one or more persons who are not voters, but the names of such persons shall not be counted. As used in this charter the term "voter," "qualified voter," and "registered voter" are synonymous. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.16. Presumptions.
     
    All signatures to any petition referred to in this charter shall be accepted and treated as prima facie genuine. For the purpose of certifying the number of voters whose names are signed to any such petition, the clerk of the circuit court of the city shall presume that any person whose name appears thereon is a voter if such person be a voter within the meaning of section 19.17 hereof. All such petitions substantially complying with the requirements of this charter, and certified by the clerk of the circuit court to bear the required number of signatures of voters, shall be accepted and treated as prima facie sufficient. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.17. Qualifications of persons signing certain petitions.
     
    Any person shall be deemed to be a voter for the purpose of signing any petition referred to in this charter if the name of such person is on the registration books maintained by the general registrar of the city on the date such petition is filed with the appropriate official. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.18. Duty of city attorney.
     
    Before any ordinance or amendment proposed by popular petition shall be submitted to the council, it shall first be approved as to form by the city attorney, whose duty it shall be to draft such proposed ordinance or amendment in proper legal language, and to render such other service to persons desiring to propose such ordinances or amendments as shall be necessary to make the same proper for consideration by the council. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.19. Offenses.
     
    No person shall:
     
    (a) Falsely impersonate another in the signing of any petition for initiative, referendum or recall, or forge any name thereto, or deface, destroy, or remove from any of the places designated in this charter any copy of a petition for recall with intent to interfere with or defeat such recall;
     
    (b) Sign any petition for initiative, referendum or recall with knowledge that he is not qualified voter of the city; or purposely write his name or residence falsely in the signing of any such petition; or sign or intentionally permit to be signed any petition for recall at any other place than hereinbefore designated for the signing of such petitions; or employ or pay another or accept employment on the basis of the number of signatures subscribed thereto, or for circulating any petition permitted by this charter to be circulated.
     
    Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
     
    The foregoing provisions shall not be deemed or held to be exclusive of, but in addition to, all laws of the Commonwealth prescribing penalties for the same offenses, or for other offenses relating to the same matter. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 19.20. Compensation of clerk of the circuit court.
     
    For his services in connection with any proceedings under the foregoing sections relating to the initiative, referendum and recall, the clerk of the circuit court of the city shall be paid by the city such reasonable fees as are now or may hereafter be provided by law for similar services in other cases. (Acts 1982, ch. 398)
     
     
    Sec. 20. Oaths of office.
     
    The members of the city council and all other officers of the city, whether elected by the people or appointed by the council, before entering upon the duties of their respective offices, shall be sworn in, in accordance with the laws of the state. Such oaths may be administered by the clerk of council, the judge or clerk of the circuit court or by any person competent to administer an oath under the laws of the state; and a certificate of such oaths having been taken shall be filed by each officer with the clerk of the council, who shall enter the same upon the journal of the council. If any person appointed or elected to any office in said city, shall neglect to take such oath as required by law, his office shall be deemed vacant, and there shall be another appointment or election for the same. (HB1615, 3-25-99)
     
     
    Sec. 21. Terms and termination of office of elected officials.
     
    All persons elected by the people to fill any municipal office, shall enter upon the duties thereof at the time prescribed by the general laws of the state, and shall respectively continue in office until their successors have qualified.
     
     
    Sec. 22. Bonds of officers and employees—Generally.
     
    The council shall designate such officers and employees of the city as shall give to the city bonds, with securities to be approved by the council, conditioned so as to secure the faithful discharge of their official duties, and the several penalties of said bonds shall be the sums of the council, by ordinance, shall prescribe; provided, that the securities of the treasurer, collector, commissioner of revenue and high constable, respectively, shall be equally liable for the acts of his deputy or deputies as for those of their principals.
     
    The bonds provided for under this section are only to secure the faithful discharge of duties to the city, and in no wise are to supersede the official bonds of the Commonwealth required of any of said officials by law. All official bonds given by municipal officers and employees shall be filed with the clerk of the corporation court.
     
    Code reference—Official bonds, § 2-81.
     
    State law reference—Oaths, affirmations and bonds, Code of Virginia, Tit. 49.
     
     
    Sec. 23. Same—Remedy of city upon default.
     
    In case of default on the part of any bonded municipal officer, the city shall have the same remedies upon his bond against him and his sureties as are provided for the state in enforcing the penalty of any official bond given to it.
     
    Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM