First I told you there were four candidates vying to be the next South District rep on the Newport News City Council.

The field with Sheryl Holmes-Abbott, Saundra Cherry, Cleve Mabry and Teunsha Vick would have been crowded as is.

But then a fifth contender emerged in the form of Peter Cephus Newman, a patent agent running on a Republican platform of reduced spending and low taxes.

Though Newman filed for candidacy at the last minute, so to speak (on a Wednesday after a Tuesday deadline had been pushed back on account of snow), he apparently is NOT the final entrant.

Local handyman James B. "Bobby Jo" Wills tells me via letter that he's running a write-in campaign.

Armed with the slogan "the homeboy" candidate Wills says the clock ran out on him as he was putting together his candidacy filing, but that wasn't enough to deter him.

"I was not able to secure 125 signatures on my petitions in a quick enough manner sooo ... I've turned in the the direction of a very colorful "write-in" campaign

If his campaign literature is any indication his effort will indeed be colorful. On his fliers he refers to himself as "'the homeboy' candidate" and they're covered with religious and prison imagery.

That fits with his campaign pledge to work on issues involving the restoration of rights for ex-cons.

Wills has worked as a truck driver, a building maintenance worker (in this writer's hometown of Silver Spring, Md.) a taxi cab driver and, currently, a handyman, carpenter and sign painter.

Though write-in efforts are rarely successful, in one way Wills has an easier path than others who've mounted such camaigns: His name is short and easy to spell.

And Newport News Voter Registrar Vicki Lewis said votes for Wills or for any other write-in candidate have to approximate the name but don't have to get it perfectly.

In other words, a vote counts "as long as the electoral board can understand the intent of the voter."