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Citizens group announces effort to recall Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland

A group of citizens led by Elena Schlossberg, executive director of the Coalition to Protect Prince William County, held a press conference outside the McCoart Government Center prior to the 7 p.m. resumption of the June 28 Board of County Supervisors meeting, to announce its effort to bring a lawsuit to recall Pete Candland, Gainesville District Supervisor.

Prior to the press conference, Schlossberg told the Bull Run Observer that the lawsuit would be based on the assertion that Candland has violated the direction of Amy Ashworth, Commonwealth Attorney.  Schlossberg paraphrased this direction saying, “That Candland should neither discuss nor vote on anything related to the PW Digital Gateway or the Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District.”

For such a lawsuit to be successful, Schlossberg told the Bull Run Observer, “You have to reach a threshold that is pretty robust in the state of Virginia. You really have to prove that there has been a harm by this particular conflict to the community.”

Asserted Schlossberg, “We believe we have reached that threshold. And that’s why I included the petition. So, you can read how we believe how the threshold has been met. The way the recall petition works, we have to collect the signatures. So, the way we’re doing it right now, is we’re announcing it to the public in the press conference, and then we will read the petition into the public record at citizen’s time” during the Board of County Supervisors’ meeting.

She indicated that after the necessary signatures of 1,796 registered Gainesville District voters are obtained on the petition, it will be submitted to the Circuit Court of Prince William County. A judge then will determine if because of Candland’s actions, he is disqualified to continue to hold his office as Gainesville District Supervisor.

If Candland were to be disqualified, or he elects to resign, a special election for his replacement will be held, Schlossberg said.

According to Schlossberg, a disqualification is not a recusal. It has a much higher standard. She also mentioned “a bombshell” regarding another elected official that would be brought up during public comment time at the ensuing BOCS meeting and said, “The rot of the fish is in the head.”

At the press conference, Schlossberg and others explained why they feel it is necessary to recall Candland. They reiterated the procedure to be followed to execute the recall. Schlossberg said Candland has lost the trust of those he represents. 

Roger Yackel of Heritage Hunt said this is neither a Republican nor Democratic issue, and concerns regarding the Digital Gateway on Pageland Lane have spread well beyond the Heritage Hunt community. Another speaker coined the phrase regarding Candland as “Industrialization without representation.”

During public comment time at the June 28 BOCS’ evening session, Schlossberg and others presented their case for Candland’s recall by citing what they referred to as “facts” regarding numerous discussions and activities in which he participated in violation of the Commonwealth Attorney’s directive. 

Christopher Carroll, a Brentsville District resident, presented the bombshell revelation–alleging that Ann Wheeler, Chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, engaged in the purchase of data center stocks, without recusing herself from discussions regarding data centers in Prince William County.

Candland responded by telling the Bull Run Observer, “At this point, this is nothing more than a small group of individuals that has put together a list of inaccurate concerns they have with my performance as supervisor.  What they are alleging is not true.” Referring to the Commonwealth Attorney, Candland said, “It’s important to note, that I reached out to her to ask for her opinion and advice. Throughout this entire process, I’ve been acting according to the state statute to the best of my knowledge.” 

The Bull Run Observer has reached out to Wheeler and is awaiting her response

Editor’s Note: The July 1 edition of the Bull Run Observer went to press before this news broke. The next Bull Run Observer on July 22 will carry a complete report.

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