Local Democrats weigh petitioning for Delgaudio’s removal
The Sterling resident who plans to challenge embattled Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) in the next Board of Supervisors election is urging members of his party and Delgaudio opponents to be patient before fervidly pushing for Delgaudio’s removal from office.
Democrat Tony Barney, who in November announced his plans to challenge Delgaudio in 2015, issued a statement calling a petition to remove Delgaudio at this time “premature” and a “bad idea.”
The controversial Delgaudio is under investigation by the Arlington Commonwealth’s attorney office for allegations he misused county resources for political fundraising and campaigning. The Washington Post detailed the claims, made by a former legislative aide to Delgaudio, in a story in September.
Barney, a member of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, said the LCDC discussed circulating a petition at a meeting in early December. Barney also said a number of other Sterling residents have pushed for a recall petition.
“As much as I would like to see Mr. Delgaudio removed from office, under the law, he has the right to due process,” Barney wrote in his statement. “I believe he should have this right granted to him, just as I would want it granted to myself or any other person. In my opinion, jumping the gun with a removal petition now, before the criminal investigation is complete, could possibly force Mr. Delgaudio to make his defenses before all possible charges have even been brought against him.”
Barney went on to say submitting a petition too early could interfere with the Arlington Commonwealth Attorney’s investigation. Moreover, criminal cases and elected official-removal cases are treated as separate proceedings, he said.
Chairman of the LCDC Evan Macbeth has repeatedly said that removing Delgaudio will ultimately be up to the citizens of Sterling. While acknowledging the LCDC has discussed circulating a petition and that he wants to see Delgaudio out of office, Macbeth said no official measures for such have been put in place.
“The LCDC has discussed a number of options for addressing the lack of faithful representation on the board for the citizens of Sterling,” Macbeth said. “Virginia does not have recall elections, but recall trials. As such, we’ve evaluated options, including a recall petition, in light of the law and the fact that there is a legal process and investigation underway now.”
Barney agreed it would be up to the the people of Sterling to elect a new representative on the Board of Supervisors.
“This needs to be driven by solid facts motivating a public, and it should be an effort that is non-partisan and comes from the community of Sterling,” Barney said. “When the time is right, I and my neighbors will do what has to be done.
Former Loudoun County Supervisor Stevens Miller, an attorney who now serves as executive director for the political action committee Real Advocate, said he agrees with Barney’s assessment of the case. Miller also represents the former legislative aide who filed the initial complaint against Delgaudio, Donna Mateer.
“Real Advocate has looked at the statute that defines the removal procedure and, though it might be useful at some time later, we have independently come to the same conclusion that … removal proceedings before the criminal investigation is complete would be premature,” Miller said.