NORFOLK, Va. – The group that filed a petition to repeal the original vote on the proposed casino in Norfolk announced Thursday they have collected more than 3,400 signatures in one day.
The Citizens for an Informed Norfolk Committee says the signatures were all collected on Tuesday, November 5, which was Election Day. The signatures are more than the City Charter’s required amount of 1,250.
The petition requests that the Norfolk City Council initiate an ordinance to repeal the casino ordinance it approved during a vote on September 24 after the Pamunkey Indian tribe and the city agreed to develop a resort hotel and casino on city land at Harbor Park.
A month after the council’s vote, the group Say NO to the Norfolk Casino announced they failed to get enough signatures on their petition calling for a referendum. They only collected 3,680 out of the required 4,000.
The petition was filed with the Norfolk City Clerk’s office pursuant to Section 31 of the Norfolk City Charter and will be presented to the city council on November 26.
“As petitioners, we created Informed Norfolk in order for residents to better understand and be informed about the impacts of a casino in Norfolk. We are not anti-casino. We are pro-information and pro-transparency. We believe that independent analysis relative to net economic impacts, public safety, and public health impacts are needed to make an informed decision. We also want more understanding of the impacts of a tribal casino on sovereign land versus a commercial casino on land remaining under the jurisdiction of the City, Commonwealth and the US government,” former Norfolk City Council member and petitioner Nicole Carry said of how the movement began.
Forty-five volunteers collected the signatures at 25 polling locations throughout the city, only one week from when the petition was initially filed in Circuit Court.
“We are incredibly grateful to all our volunteers. In one week, we managed to launch our website and social media, create our signs and poll materials, and engage our volunteers to work a total of over 142 hours in one day to collect thousands of signatures at polls in every ward of our City. It is clear to us that people want to be Informed.”
Public hearings on the new, petition-initiated ordinance to repeal the original ordinance will likely be scheduled in December.
If the council does not repeal the original casino ordinance and allow a do-over, the group says it will initiate another petition to collect the 4,000 registered Norfolk voter signatures required to force a citywide vote on the original ordinance. According to the Virginia State Charter, the petitioners have nine months to collect these additional signatures.
“We know it is potentially a long process,” said petitioner Eric Hause, “but democracy takes time. We are willing to take the time and make this effort to ensure our city leaders uphold their vision of a people-centered, people-first Norfolk.”
Click here for more information on Informed Norfolk.