As a publicly declared candidate for Sterling Supervisor, I have been made aware that some individuals or groups may be considering circulating a petition to ask the Circuit Court to remove the current Sterling Supervisor, Eugene Delgaudio, from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
In my opinion, circulating such a petition at this point in time would be premature, and a bad idea for the following reasons:
1. Mr. Delgaudio is currently under criminal investigation by a special prosecutor. Asking for his removal now could risk interfering with that investigation. Under Virginia law, removal petitions require a prosecutor to prove the grounds for removal, such as misuse of office, to a Circuit Court judge. The Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney, James Plowman, has already referred the matter of Mr. Delgaudio to the Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney. If Mr. Plowman should receive a removal petition, he most likely would refer that petition to Arlington, as well. The prosecutor there, or the Circuit Court, would probably suspend any removal proceedings until the current criminal investigation is complete. If Mr. Delgaudio were not charged with any crime at that time, the judge would most likely dismiss the removal case, as well.
2. I believe that we should not risk the success of a valid removal petition by linking it to the ongoing criminal investigation. According to attorney friends, criminal cases and removal cases are separate proceedings. The proceedings apply separate criteria and standards of proof. Sterling voters have the right to have a removal case tried on its own, rather than made part of a criminal matter over which we have no control.
3. As much as I would like to see Mr. Delgaudio removed from office, under the law, he has the right to due process. 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. In court, this very likely would be found to be unconstitutional.
4. If a removal petition were to interfere with the present investigation, or were to be found unconstitutional, we would appear to be jumping the gun, and our credibility could be hurt in the eye of the public, making it more difficult to gain public support, and making it easier for Delgaudio's supporters to finger point, name call, play the "blame game" and generally undermine our efforts.
As a long-time Sterling citizen, a dedicated Democrat, and a declared candidate for Sterling Supervisor, I ask anyone thinking of starting a petition to remove Mr. Delgaudio from office to wait, and join me in respecting the proper administration of justice. Some of us have waited a long time to hold Eugene Delgaudio accountable for his actions. I sincerely hope that we all can wait just a little longer, until the criminal investigation of Mr. Delgaudio is complete, before we do just that.
Tony "Coach" Barney