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

WASHINGTON, Pa. — A group of voters is challenging the historic election in the City of Washington.

JoJo Burgess, 53, made history two weeks ago in the November election as the first Black mayor in the small city of Washington. He’s set to take office on Jan. 2, 2024, but is already putting in the work.

“I’ve already reached out to some of our state and federal legislators talking about what we can do to make Washington a better place for everyone,” Burgess said.

Now, there’s a possibility that could all be taken away.

More than two dozen voters, including Burgess’ opponent Mark Kennison, have filed a petition claiming his win was illegal.

“It’s a definite attack on the Black community in Washington because that’s where a majority of the Black people vote at,” Burgess said. “I think they want to disenfranchise those voters up there and discourage them from being able to vote.”

The court filing claims the number of votes cast was inflated.

Petitioners also argue Burgess should not have been allowed inside a polling place several times to use the restroom. They also claim one of Burgess’ campaign workers made “awful, derogatory statements” about Kennison in front of the polling place.

The mayor-elect disputes it all.

“Some of the stuff, flat out, is just, it’s a reach,” Burgess said. “The campaign I ran was very positive and inclusive to everyone, and that is why I won this race.”

The petitioners are asking for various election records to analyze each vote.

Burgess is fighting back, saying he won’t let the court filing stop him from moving forward.

“The mission right now is to bring this community together and all of us being one to make Washington a better place to live in, and nothing is going to deter me from doing that,” he said.

Burgess will be at a hearing scheduled on Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 9:15 a.m. at the Washington County Courthouse.

Burgess’ lawyer told Channel 11, he filed a motion earlier in the day to throw the election contest out. The decision will be up to the judge.

Turturice & Associates, the law office that filed the petition, said they do not have a comment at this time.

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