How they Voted
The Privileges and Elections Committee consists of 15 state senators. A number of senators local to the Charlottesville area are on the committee. A "yes" vote is in favor of removing Dragas' name from the appointments. A "no" vote moves the appointments forward to the next step.
University of Virginia rector Helen Dragas has overcome a major hurdle in her reappointment process to the Board of Visitors after a key vote by a handful of state senators.
In a 12-3 vote by the Privileges and Elections Committee of the State Senate, lawmakers moved Dragas' appointment process along.
"It’s not over yet," said state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-25th District), who represents parts of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia.
Deeds told his fellow committee members of the 10,000 emails he's received, all against Dragas' reappointment to the Board of Visitors following the attempted ousting of UVa. President Teresa Sullivan last summer.
"To restore trust, we’ve got to move on," Deeds said during the hearing. "I don’t think we can move on, I don’t think we’re going to be able to move past this as long as the personalities that were in place at the time this monumental sin took place are replaced.
Deeds' comments, though, weren't enough. The majority of senators voted not to remove Dragas' name from Gov. Bob McDonnell's full list of appointments.
"Every once in a while, a blind hog finds an acorn," Deeds said after the meeting. "I know this. In this process, you can’t give up until it’s over."
A number of people spoke in Dragas' defense, talking about her character and good intentions.
"Helen Dragas is a strong and competent business leader," said Janet Vestal Kelly, secretary of the commonwealth.
The usually outspoken opponents of Dragas didn't show up to the General Assembly Building to speak during public comment, so the support from some state senators could be a positive sign for UVa.'s rector.
From here, Dragas must be confirmed by the full Senate and the House of Delegates. Those votes could happen in the coming days or weeks.