Sal Leone filed a dubious complaint with the Guilford County Board of Elections on July 27 in regards to the At-large Greensboro City Council race on Tuesday, July 26.

On July 29, Leone filed an amended complaint with more complete information.

Leone is challenging the election of At-large City Councilmember Hugh Holston because Holston had “RE-ELECT Hugh Holston City Council At Large” on his campaign signs, and “re-elect” on other campaign material, but was not elected to office in 2017.

Leone’s amended complaint states, “The complaint is based on the term deception which is defined as an untruth. The term Re-Elect was placed on the political signs and website of Mr. Hugh Holston.  Mr. Holston was appointed to complete the term of a seat vacated on council. The election to which all current city council members are completing took place in 2017 which Mr. Holston was not on the ballot.”

In the amended complaint, Leone includes an article about a study done at Vanderbilt University that concluded that campaign signs have a measurable positive effect on voters.

Leone states repeatedly in the complaint that because Holston was not elected in 2017, it was deceptive and gave him an unfair advantage to include “re-elect” in his campaign material.

However, Leone also includes a definition of re-elect in the complaint that states in part, “Whenever citizens vote to choose an incumbent (a current political office holder), they reelect that person to continue doing his or her job.”

Holston was the incumbent in the race having been chosen by the City Council in September 2021 to fill the seat left vacant when former At-large City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy resigned to become the director of the Greensboro Department of Neighborhood Development.

The complaint doesn’t question the fact that Holston was the incumbent, and by the very definition that Leone quotes in his complaint, as the incumbent Holston was asking voters to re-elect him to continue doing his job.

In defining the term “incumbency,” Ballotpedia states, “a candidate seeks re-election to the exact office he or she currently holds; for example, a current representative in District 1 may seek re-election to District 1.”

The definition doesn’t put any limitations on whether the incumbent was elected or appointed to the office.

Holston is a current at-large city councilmember and according to the  Ballotpedia definition he was seeking “re-election” to that office.

Leone said his understanding was that the Board of Elections would hear his complaint at its Friday, August 5 meeting.

If Leone’s name sounds familiar it may be because he has been a frequent, but unsuccessful, candidate for office himself.  Leone ran for an at-large Greensboro City Council seat in 2011. He ran as a Republican for the state Senate District 27 seat in 2012 and as a Democrat for the state House District 62 seat in 2014. He ran for Greensboro mayor in 2015 and for the District 5 Greensboro City Council seat in 2017.