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Voters challenging Washington mayoral election withdraw petition

Voters challenging Washington mayoral election withdraw petition
Voters challenging Washington mayoral election withdraw petition 02:08

WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) -- A group of voters who challenged the mayoral election in Washington, Pennsylvania, withdrew their petition on Wednesday. 

Mayor-elect JoJo Burgess says he was ready for a fight but in the 11th hour, the petition was withdrawn. He says now he can focus his energy on bringing this community together.

"I will not be deterred or influenced or pushed into any type of negativity when trying to do the will of the people," Burgess said. 

Burgess made history just two weeks ago as the first Black man elected mayor of Washington in a close race, decided by just 39 votes.

But since, he has had to defend his historic win after a group of 26 voters, including his opponent Mark Kennison, contested the election of Burgess, claiming his win was illegal. 

"A challenge was issued saying that one of the precincts in the city had some illegal activity and that the election was illegal in that precinct," Burgess said. 

In court documents obtained by KDKA-TV, the group specifically calls into question the results of a polling place where Burgess says a majority of the city's Black residents vote. The lawsuit alleges Burgess was allowed inside several times on Election Day when he shouldn't have been. 

"One of the accusations was that I went into the polling place to go to the bathroom," he said. 

A hearing was scheduled before the county elections board Wednesday morning but in a surprising move, Kennision withdrew the petition before the hearing was to start.

"He was very gracious in doing so. We understand what he wanted. Mark wanted a recount. He just wanted to make sure everything was done legally because it was a close race. And I respect that," Burgess said. 

"The election is now over. I am not a Democratic mayor or a Republican mayor. I am the mayor of the people. I'm here to represent everyone. And that's what I intend to do," he added. 

The election results will be certified on Monday. Burgess will be sworn in on Jan. 2. 

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