Stokes says the Board doesn't have the authority
HOPEWELL — After nearly a year of controversy surrounding the Hopewell Electoral Board, the current members voted Wednesday afternoon to remove the General Registrar from office.
Yolanda Stokes was appointed to the position in May of 2018, but since the vote came in a closed meeting the legality of that appointment was questioned. The board, then made up of David Silverstro, Patrick Washington and Herbert Townes, voted again in an advertised public meeting to put Stokes on the job.
Just last week, Silvestro and Townes were officially removed from the board after being suspended in October 2018. The jury found the two committed negligence, misuse of office and cited incompetence with Silvestro and Townes going against state Board of Election standards approving a ballot with three candidates' names in all capital letters.
Now Stokes, who they put in office, has met the same fate.
Following the one hour and a half long closed session meeting, current members Chairman George Uzzle, Vice Chair Sheila Mickelson and Secretary William Anderson voted unanimously to remove Stokes from the General Registrar position effective immediately.
Sitting in the back of the room, Stokes rushed outside and when asked what she thought of the decision, Stokes replied, “They don’t have the authority.”
During closed session, she explained two of the members - Uzzle and Mickelson - were appointed by the judge to fill in temporarily during the suspension of Silvestro and Townes.
Stokes suggested since the two were no longer suspended but now removed as of March 1, the two taking their place were not permanent members of the Electoral Board yet.
However, Uzzle and Mickelson disagreed. “We are charged with all duties in their place,” Uzzle said. “We have the authority to vote and make decisions.”
While the three members of the Electoral Board said they could not discuss what was said behind closed doors, Mickelson siad, “It just wasn’t a good fit.”
Neither of the three would comment on the court’s decision to remove Townes and Silvestro permanently.
Though Stokes suggested she would fight the decision of her removal, the process to hire a new registrar now begins.
“The process will be open and follow code,” Mickelson said. “The voters of Hopewell deserve the best.”