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Black Candidate Loses City Council Bid in Challenged Election

April 22, 1986

DOVER, Del. (AP) _ The only black ever to serve on the City Council lost a bid to recapture his seat in an election held under laws that the NAACP has challenged in court, alleging racial discrimination.

James Hardcastle was appointed to the seat in 1975 and was re-elected four times before being defeated in 1984 by Roger Bulley. Both men lost Monday to Patrick Lynn, who received 1,513 votes to 901 for Hardcastle and 417 for Bulley.

Goldie Legates, who ran unopposed in another district, became the second woman ever elected to the council and the first since 1948.

Dover’s black community had mixed feelings about Hardcastle’s candidacy, with some saying it could hurt a civil rights suit pending in U.S. District Court in Wilmington.

The suit, filed last year by the central Delaware branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and branch president Cecil Wilson, contends that Dover’s at-large elections and dual registration violate the 1964 Voting Rights Act and make it virtually impossible for blacks to get elected.

Candidates for each seat are chosen from four election districts, which vary in size, but voters throughout the city cast ballots for all seats.

Residents must also register to vote in municipal elections separately from federal, state and county elections.

Similar election systems in Maryland were successfully challenged by the U.S. Justice Department.

Hardcastle, 70, said he has no plans to run again for the council, but he did not rule out seeking another office.

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