A Virginia state senator who recently won re-election faces a call for an investigation from her opponent and a lawsuit from several of her neighbors over whether she actually lives in the new district she represents.
Democratic Sen. Ghazala Hashmi defeated Republican challenger Hayden Fisher by more than 13,000 votes in the Nov. 7 election. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Fisher said he is looking for an investigation and plans to ask state officials not to certify the results. Earlier this week, three Chesterfield residents filed a lawsuit alleging that Hashmi does not live in the new District 15. The neighbors are asking for an injunction to block Hashmi's election.
Under state law, legislators must live in the legislative district they represent.
According to county tax records, Hashmi has owned a home in Midlothian since 1999. That home is within the boundaries of the former 10th District that Hashmi represented before redistricting was completed. Her candidacy filing paperwork lists an apartment in north Chesterfield within the boundaries of the new District 15, where she is running for re-election this year.
Ronald Gay, who is listed in online court records as the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by Hashmi's neighbors, told the Times-Dispatch that he lives around the corner from the house Hashmi and her husband bought in 1999.
Gay said she sees her car and her husband's car parked in the driveway of the house. “I take my dog out every day between 7:30 and 8 in the morning and then I see both cars,” she said.
In a statement to The Associated Press on Friday, Aaron Mukerjee, Hashmi's attorney, said Hashmi moved into his apartment in north Chesterfield in early 2023. Mukerjee said Hashmi updated his voter registration, his car registration and your driver's license to reflect your new residence.
“Therefore, she was a resident of Senate District 15 at the time she ran for office, and remains a resident of Senate District 15 to this day,” Mukerjee said. "She has fully complied with Virginia law and we are confident that this case will be dismissed."
When the Virginia Supreme Court redrew the state's legislative boundaries in late 2021, dozens of lawmakers were pulled into districts with other incumbents or kicked out of their districts. Some moved so they could run in new districts, while many incumbents retired.
Hashmi is not the only candidate whose residence has been questioned .
Removing candidates or incumbent officials generally requires a prosecutor to file a legal complaint. It would be up to a judge to determine whether Hashmi met the requirements for candidacy. The state Board of Elections will meet on December 4 to certify the election results.