Petition claiming Washington’s 1st Black mayor-elect inflated votes withdrawn in court

WASHINGTON, Pa. — A dramatic reversal played out in court Wednesday as the losing mayoral candidate in Washington decided to pull the challenge against mayor-elect JoJo Burgess.

Channel 11 was the first to tell you about the petition challenging the election, claiming Burgess inflated votes.

>>> Petition claims Washington’s 1st Black mayor-elect inflated votes

In a surprise move, the candidate who lost withdrew, saying he didn’t want to divide residents more, after he and his fellow petitioners were called racist, questioning this town’s first Black mayor-elect.

Burgess left the Washington County Courthouse pleased that the lawsuit questioning his election results was withdrawn by his opponent, Washington business owner Mark Kennison, who spoke out for the first time since the mayoral election that was extremely close, decided by just 39 votes.

Kennison along with some voters filed the lawsuit questioning the results.

At the beginning of Wednesday’s hearing, he stood up and withdrew, saying he feared the lawsuit was dividing the community that he loves, with people calling him and his supporters racist.

While dropping the lawsuit was aimed at bringing the community together, the allegations of racism created tension in and outside of the courtroom.

The lawsuit petitioners were asking a judge to rule that county election leaders should provide voting records for them to analyze, including signatures. The county would not provide that.

After the hearing, Channel 11 went to the elections director, who told us the election was fair.

Those election results will be certified on Monday. We asked Burgess if he’d lost the election by such a small margin if he’d also question the results.

The day after the election, officials received 150 ballots countywide, which do not count. This serves as a reminder to voters that you cannot mail a ballot on Election Day anymore. Ballots postmarked on Election Day don’t count.

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