HAMPTON, Va. – City council members went back and forth on why they believe city workers should or should not have November 3, 2020 as a paid holiday.
"Tonight, this is critical!” said councilmember Steven Brown.
"Voting is extremely important to our city and democracy. That’s how we all got here,” added Vice Mayor Jimmy Gray.
Councilmember Steven Brown’s motion to give Hampton city workers failed 4-3.
"I have not been persuaded that we need to provide a holiday for city employees on election day,” said councilmember Eleanor Brown.
Council woman Chris Snead giving city employees the day off would cost almost $100,000.
"It could cost us up to $90,000 to make it a holiday,” said Chris Snead.
Mayor Donnie Tuck says even though workers won't have the day off, they do have some time to vote.
“There is latitude and flexibility for employees on the day of election to have up to four hours to go and vote,” said Mayor Tuck.
In the spring Governor Ralph Northam passed a law making Election Day a paid state holiday, replacing Lee Jackson day but the ultimate decision is left up to localities.
Mayor Tuck says “As a city we do not recognize lee Jackson day as a holiday. So there is no tradeoff there so we would actually be creating a holiday.”
Voter safety is another topic that was discussed at the meeting.
At a previous council meeting the Hampton local chapter of NAACP asked council to create an ordinance banning guns at all polling locations including libraries and community centers.
Right now people are allowed to carry their firearms in city buildings except schools.
“There is no provision against open carry in the city,” said Mayor Tuck.
City leaders say they have a plan to prevent voter intimidation. Reminding people that's it's against the law.
"A class 1 misdemeanor to hinder, interfere or intimidate with a voter in a way that prevents them to cast a secret ballot,” said a city official during a presentation.
City leaders say there are expecting a peaceful and safe Election Day but they are prepared. "We have plans in place in case we have outside agitators in a case that they disrupt the polls. Everyone should feel safe.”
Mayor Tuck says anyone who is uncomfortable is should reach out to the closest polling official. “That individual can come outside and address it or call the police.”