Effort to recall Prince William County board chair approaches signature threshold

Karen Sheehan of the Coalition to Protect Prince William County shows a stack of signature pages for the recall of Board of County Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler during a press conference Tuesday. (Inside Nova/Nolan Stout)

The organizers of a petition to recall Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler say they have gathered nearly 12,000 signatures, approaching the threshold needed to remove her from office.

During a press conference Tuesday, organizers announced their progress on the recall effort, but noted that the signatures must first be verified before the petition can be submitted to the courts.

Organizers noted that although the number gathered so far is more than the number required for a recall, they must be reviewed for duplicates, people who don’t live in the county limits and those who aren’t registered voters.

The Coalition to Protect Prince William County started its recall effort in July over Wheeler’s ties to the data center industry.

The petition charges that Wheeler has participated in numerous board votes and closed sessions regarding data center companies in which she owns stock, thus constituting malfeasance.

Virginia law allows residents to petition the Circuit Court to remove any elected official for four reasons: neglect of duty/misuse of office/incompetence; conviction of certain misdemeanors; conviction of a hate crime; or conviction of certain sexual crimes.

The petition must be signed by registered voters composing at least 10% of the total number of votes cast in the most recent election for the office.

Wheeler won a four-way race in 2019 with 55% of the 112,089 votes cast so her petition would need to be signed by at least 11,209 registered voters.

Manassas, VA – September 17: Prince William County Animal Services Center (Inside Nova via Tavan Smith)

Karen Sheehan, a coalition board member, said it would likely be a few months before the petition was ready for submission. She said organizers want to have extra signatures in case some are ruled invalid.

Sheehan said the coalition is aiming for around 12,300 to 13,400 signatures.

“Ann Wheeler’s time is coming to an end, either by recall or the 2023 election,” Sheehan said.

Wheeler’s only comment on the recall has been to say it was started by “opponents of progressive change.”

“This recall event represents the ultimate effort to fight the progress this Democratic majority board has been making from day one in Prince William County,” Wheeler wrote in an email this summer. “Many people recognize that the effort to recall me is an effort to try to take Prince William County backwards.  Whether it be land-use or social progress, the old guard is fighting change.”

The coalition was also leading a recall effort for Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, over his connections to the controversial PW Digital Gateway project. Candland, however, announced his resignation over the weekend.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.


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