Update: On June 24, 2018 The Virginian Pilot published an article with the headline: 5 Chesapeake candidates fined after their sample ballot failed to list sponsorship.

Original Article:

The local media is refusing to publish this story, but this is the truth….

In the May 2018 Chesapeake, Virginia local election there were Republican endorsed candidates, Democratic endorsed candidates, Independent candidates and the infamous “Goldenrod ballot” candidates.  The Goldenrod ballot is a racist ballot that excludes candidates of all other races except for African American candidates.  It is essentially the “blacks only ballot” and it was deemed illegal by the Virginia State Board of Elections.

Dr. Ella Ward & Dwight Parker have both served on Chesapeake city council for many years and actively played a role in organizing and distributing this illegal and racial based ballot. These ballots were distributed in many primarily African American churches two days before the election. The churches that distributed those ballots may have also jeopardized their tax exempt status.

The Virginian Pilot covered a story on February 1, 2018 involving Senator Spurill stating that religious organizations are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office,” according to the Internal Revenue Service website.”

The election results show that the Goldenrod ballot did have an significant impact on the local city elections.

Dr. Ella Ward
Dwight Parker






A letter from candidate Gene Waters to City Council Members and Nancy Parr, Chesapeake Commonwealth Attorney.

June 19, 2018

Honorable Chesapeake City Council Members
Honorable Nancy Parr, Chesapeake Commonwealth Attorney

Two African American Chesapeake City Council members’ involvement in Illegal “Golden Rod” Ballot

Dear Council Members,

On March 22, 2018, the Chesapeake Democratic Committee (CDC) board allowed interviews for all perspective Independent candidates to consider endorsements for the May 1, 2018 election.

At the April 12th general membership meeting of the Democratic meeting, Independent candidates were allowed to present their platforms and the membership voted at the end of the meeting to endorse Jo Anne Gallant for Mayor, Gene Waters for City Council, Luis F. Padilla for School Board & Sharon Johnson-Clayton for School Board.

According to trusted reliable sources, two African American Council members met with ONLY CDC endorsed black candidates on Friday, April 20, 2018 and agreed to create a separate ballot called “Golden Rod” of only black candidates. The ballots were distributed to African American churches on Sunday, two days before the election.

Important Points:

1. Due to a filed complaint, a public hearing was held by the Virginia State Board of Elections, Senate Room 3 in the Virginia State Capital on Tuesday, June 19th. 11:30 AM. The decision of the board was to fine each candidate listed on the “Golden Rod” sample ballot, $100.00, due to (a) print media violation of an illegal authorization statement and (b) circulating an illegal ballot within 14 days of an election.

2. The two Council members and the all the “Golden Rod” sample ballot candidates signed an agreement with the CDC to follow the policies of the party, not create any separate ballot and to distribute only the authorized Democratic Sample Ballot.

3. The Chesapeake Democratic Committee leadership had no knowledge, sanctioned or approved the creation or distribution of the “Golden Rod” ballot.

4. Actions of the two council members and other candidates jeopardized the tax exempt 501(3)(c) status of the African American churches who participated in distributing the ballot within their churches.

Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Racial prejudice promoted by any person or group no matter what nationality is wrong and should be stopped and admonished, especially if committed by public officials, who should be held accountable to a higher standard!

I appreciate the CDC promoting a ballot of diversity to broaden their outreach to all communities across Chesapeake. I sincerely appreciate the positive campaign by a majority of the candidates. My efforts tonight will hopefully lead to a better election in 2020.

Gene A. Waters

Excluded Candidates Openly Support Racial Equality

All of the Goldenrod candidates were also endorsed by the Chesapeake Democratic Committee. The three Democratic endorsed candidates who were excluded from the Goldenrod ballot were Jo Anne Gallant, candidate for Mayor, Gene Waters, candidate for City Council and Luis Padilla, candidate for School Board.  Each of these candidates have talked openly about the importance of racial diversity and were advocates in promoting equality.

Jo Anne Gallant had openly advocated to support Dr. Ella Ward for Vice Mayor and the importance of racial diversity.  Gene Water has been a community activist for thirty years and his daughter is in an interracial relationship. Luis Padilla is originally from Puerto Rico and often spoke about minority issues.

Each of these candidates were Independent candidates who interviewed for the Democratic endorsement and received their support.  Sharon Johnson-Clayton was also an Independent candidate who interviewed for Democratic endorsement, but in turn was invited to be on the Goldenrod ballot because of her race.

Jo Anne Gallant
Gene Waters
Luis Padilla






Video from June 19, 2018 Chesapeake City Council Meeting

The impact of the goldenrod ballot on the May 2018 Chesapeake Election

When analyzing the election results you will see some interesting trends. The majority of candidates listed on the Republican endorsed ticket won their election, indicating that Chesapeake was primarily voting Republican. All of the Goldenrod candidates were also Democratic endorsed candidates.  However, several of the Goldenrod candidates leap-frogged all other candidates and were among the top vote getters, which in turn caused a handful of Republican endorsed candidates to lose.

The Republicans ran a full ticket meaning that they endorsed a candidate for every position open.  The Democratic candidates who were on the Goldenrod ballot had a much higher percentage of votes than those that were excluded. The numbers indicate that the city was not necessarily trending Democratic overall so it is interesting to note the final numerical placement of the candidates as indicated in the final polling numbers below.

Dr. Ella Ward had the highest number of total votes of any candidate running for city council.  She was an incumbent and also on the Golden Rod ballot.  Roland Davis, who was endorsed by the Republican party,  was also a well respected incumbent, yet was knocked off of city council.  Several first time candidates with the Republican party were elected by just a few hundred vote difference.

You will also see a difference between the numbers for endorsed Democratic candidates Les Smith who was on the Goldenrod ballot and Gene Waters who was excluded from this ballot.  Les Smith was a first time candidate.  Gene Waters had served on city council back in 1998 as an Independent candidate.  He had a strong following of both Republican and Independent minded supporters after his 30 years of involvement, plus he received the Democratic endorsement. Yet Gene’s numbers are lower than Les Smith, who was on the Goldenrod ballot.

Another interesting vote differential is between two African American female candidates that ran for school board.  Sharon Johnson-Clayton was an Independent candidate who interviewed and received the Democratic endorsement. Gayle Gilmore chose to remain as an Independent and did not seek endorsement.  Sharon Johnson- Clayton participated in the Goldenrod ballot and Gayle Gilmore did not.  Sharon Johnson-Clayton received 8,900 votes while Gayle Gilmore received only 4,900 votes.

There is another strategy in play with the Goldenrod ballot and that is to “vote these candidates only”.  While the actually ballot allows voters to select up to five candidates for city council, the Goldenrod ballot only lists two candidates in that race. This is a numerical strategy in an election where there are multiple candidates to choose from.  For example if all of the 10, 910 candidates that voted for school board member Patricia King also voted for fellow Democratic endorsed candidates Gene Waters and Luis Padilla then they too would have been elected.  However, if voters choose to “bullet vote” or “sling shot” vote for a single candidate, it impacts the overall results.

It is difficult to calculate exactly what the impact of the Goldenrod ballot is as they are always a multitude of factors in any election, but there definitely appears to be a strong influence as the Goldenrod candidates knocked several well respected incumbent Republicans out of office including Roland Davis and Louis Tayon, Jr.

On June 19, 2018 all the candidates listed on the African American only Goldenrod ballot have been issued a fined by the Virginia State Board of Election for the sum of $100.  This includes current council members Dr. Ella Ward and Dwight Parker.  If we are to make forward progress in the fight for the racial equality, then perhaps it would be best if our elected leaders did not widening the gap.

I guess the obvious lesson in all of this is that black votes matter.


Candidate Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png Richard W. “Rick” West  (Republican Ticket) 13,342 57.81%
Jo Anne M. Gallant – Not on Golden Rod / Independent 9,630 41.72%
Write In 108 0.47%


Chesapeake City Council,
At-Large General Election, 4-year terms, 2018
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Ella Ward – On Golden Rod Ballot 12.42% 11,755
Green check mark transparent.png R. Steve Best (Republican Ticket) 12.10% 11,456
Green check mark transparent.png John de Triquet (Republican Ticket) 11.36% 10,750
Green check mark transparent.png Susan Vitale (Republican Ticket) 11.07% 10,474
Green check mark transparent.png Matthew Hamel (Republican Ticket) 10.70% 10,123
Roland Davis Jr. (Republican Ticket) 10.54% 9,973
Les Smith Jr. – On Golden Rod Ballot 9.40% 8,897
Gene Waters -Not On Golden Rod Ballot 9.07% 8,586
Jennifer Barnes – Independent 5.18% 4,902
Mary Burke – Independent 4.48% 4,242
Levin Turner – Independent 3.68% 3,481
Total Votes 94,639
Source: Virginia Department of Elections

Member City Council – Special

Candidate Votes Percent
Dwight M. Parker – On Golden Rod Ballot 10,058 44.54%
David B. Schleeper – Independent 4,600 20.37%
Marty L. Williams – Republican Ticket 7,856 34.79%
Write In 67 0.30%


Chesapeake School Board Election Results

 Green check mark transparent.png Colleen C. Leary – Republican Ticket 11,399 12.61%
 Green check mark transparent.png Patricia Y. King – On Golden Rod Ballot 10,910 12.07%
 Green check mark transparent.pngChristie New Craig – Republican Ticket 10,612 11.74%
 Green check mark transparent.pngHarry A. Murphy – Republican Ticket 9,606 10.62%
 Green check mark transparent.png Michael J. Woods – Republican Ticket 9,398 10.39%
Louis J. Tayon, Jr. – Republican Ticket 8,933 9.88%
Sharon Johnson-Clayton – On Golden Rod Ballot 8,900 9.84%
Luis F. Padilla – Not on Golden Rod Ballot/ Independent 6,526 7.22%
Bryan A. “Bubba” Miles – Independent 5,909 6.54%
Gayle M. Gilmore – Independent 4,900 5.42%