Bill Hartley’s announcement that he will not seek a recount of the recent Bristol, Virginia City Council election results, in which he fell short of a third contested seat by just 20 votes, is a breath of fresh air.
In a highly politicized national environment where election results are widely labeled as fraudulent and those who come up short routinely claim they have been scammed and develop wild conspiracy theories as to why the results have not been in their favour, Hartley testified, in which he said, “I have confidence in the accuracy of the results,” stands out as a rarity.
Hartley could have easily let the city go through the recount process just to make sure the results were accurate and nobody would have blamed him. A margin of 20 votes is incredibly small, even within the percentage the city would have had to pay to cover the recount costs. But Hartley chose to take the high road and allow the council to go ahead and leave incumbent councilman Neal Osborne’s 20-vote lead unchallenged.
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After coming up short in the second closest city council race in history, Hartley wished his opponents and the city council well in tackling the daunting problems the city is facing. There was no promissory note, no “what ifs” or sour grapes in his testimony.
It’s refreshing to know that there are still people who understand that it is important and an essential part of a person’s character to accept defeat with the same grace and class as you celebrate victory. Hartley certainly understands winning. He was seeking his third four-year term on the city council and served two one-year terms as the city’s mayor.
In an election that saw city voters appear to be looking for new faces to help address the city’s many problems, Hartley was narrowly ousted by Neal Osborne, the only other incumbent in the running. The two challengers in the race ended up being the top two voters.
Hartley could have blamed the landfill situation for missing a few votes. The stench from the decision to build a 20-acre landfill in a quarry long before Hartley’s time on the council seems to linger on the incumbents, as if they somehow have a say in the matter.
Hopefully this won’t be the last we’ll see the name of Bill Hartley on a ballot for political office in the region. Sometimes people show more of their character and standards when they lose than when they win. Hartley has shown what he’s made of over the past few weeks.
His actions likely made at least 21 other people in town wish they had filled in the box next to his name.