Appeal Challenges GOP Convention Decision

Appeal Challenges GOP Convention Decision

With a convention, the local Republican Committee selected the process that would "get their candidates selected," said Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At large), whose campaign appealed what occurred at the Jan. 27 committee meeting.

"The discussion by these folks is absolutely ridiculous. They want to close the process," said York, who prefers a state-run open primary to allow voters to select the Republican candidates for the eight Board of Supervisors seats, the chairman of the board and three constitutional officers, that of the Commonwealth attorney, the sheriff and the commissioner of revenue.

THE YORK CAMPAIGN based its appeal on three factors:

* The handling of the committee meeting with presiding officer Tom Potter ruling out of order any motions calling for alternative methods to select candidates. Potter, first vice-chairman, served as acting chairman at the meeting following Suzanne Volpe’s decision to leave the post.

"It was bizarre to witness," said Wesley Corber, York's campaign committee chairman for Friends of Scott York and a member of the Republican Committee. "It was clearly planned and orchestrated in advance."

Corber called the meeting "a parliamentary sham" and said the proceedings of the meeting did not "possess one scintilla of legitimacy" in a letter dated Jan. 29 that he submitted to James Rich, chairman of the 10th District Republican Committee. He submitted the letter on York's behalf, since York was unable to attend the meeting. "The chair exhibited utter disregard for parliamentary procedure and the rights of members," Corber said. Potter ruled him out of order twice when he moved for a primary election, he said. Potter did not return press calls made on Tuesday to obtain his response to Corber's comments.

* The addition of non-members to the debate when seats for the 318-member committee were not vacant. Potter permitted "a substantial number of non-members to participate in each and every vote taken by the committee that night. As a result, every action of the committee was invalid," Corber said in his letter.

* The disproportioning of delegates to the county’s eight magisterial districts as shown in a document the executive committee handed out during the meeting.

CORBER FILED the campaign's appeal with Rich, who in turn submitted it to the General Counsel of the Republican Party of Virginia. "They know they can’t get their candidates selected. If they think I’m wrong, they should have an election," York said.

York’s challengers Robert Gordon of Round Hill and Lawrence Beerman of Ashburn, who has not yet filed with the Board of Elections, are against smart growth and not with the majority view of the county’s residents, York said. "I believe both candidates would do all they can to reverse the smart growth this board accomplished," he said.

Beerman, a prior Board of Supervisors member, disagreed, stating that his voting record does not show him to be pro-development. "I supported reductions in the Dulles South plan and in the toll road plan and came up with an affordability index, something to link growth with our ability to afford residences," said Beerman, adding that York's focus is his reason for running against him. "While Scott has focused solely on land use, he has forgotten the local economy."

Beerman's term with the 1996-99 Board of Supervisors ended with a $36 million surplus, while three years later, the county is experiencing a deficit, he said, adding, "That gets to be a real problem."

Beerman considers the adopted General Plan a starting point, not something he would "reverse." "That's short-sighted on Scott's part," he said.

York's supporters have a different view.

"Many people believe there is an effort to shut out Scott York. A lot of groups, Citizens for Property Rights included, would be able to martial their forces in large numbers" to the convention, said a Republican Committee member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Developers will do their will and bidding, that’s what you’re facing here. Beerman and Gordon have strong developer ties. They could essentially rewrite the [Revised General] Plan. The plan is not written in stone. … The general view is this would basically narrow it down to a group that, for the most part, is tied to developers. There’s a strong contention, led by Myers and Black, to favor that."

The committee member referred to Dale Polen Myers, chairman of the Republican Business Round Table, and Del. Richard "Dick" Black (R-32).

Alternatively, Myers said a convention will prevent crossover votes from occurring when Democrats vote for the weakest candidates in the Republican primary, aiming to generate more support for Democratic candidates in the general election, as had occurred in the 1999 primary when 5,500 voters participated in the election process.

THE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE had chosen the convention process in 1995 and again this year to be held on May 31. Seventy to 80 percent of those attending the Republican Committee meeting voted in favor of the convention, according to a voice vote that was taken, said Randy Minchew, second vice-chairman of the Republican Committee, adding that the members did not ask for a role call vote.

The Republican Party's alternatives for the primary included holding a convention, a party canvass or firehouse primary, and a mass meeting.

"A convention process for Republicans is not an unusual way of coming together," Myers said. "What you’re working with is Republicans supporting Republicans."

York disagreed, since the county has a ratio of two-to-one Republicans over Democrats, he said. "It doesn’t give every Republican a partnership in the selection of candidates for the November election," he said. "That is just wrong."

Republicans are required to sign a party pledge before they can serve at the convention as delegates or alternates to fill 2,673 seats distributed among the eight magisterial districts. If more delegate candidates file than there are seats, the Republican Committee is required to hold a party canvass to allow the delegates to vote for one another.

"I don’t know why any Republican in the county wouldn’t want to have a convention," Potter said.

Bonnie Wolfe, who is running for the Sugarland Run Board of Supervisors seat, favored a firehouse primary. "I'm not afraid of the Democrats, and I think all Republicans should be allowed to vote," said Wolfe, who is a member of the Republican Committee. "I don't support a convention because the process is very closed. It's inappropriate to ask Republicans to give up half a day of their time to vote for the Republican candidate of their choice."

At the Republican Committee meeting, Wolfe moved that the committee suspend business since the membership rolls violated the committee's plan of organization, Wolfe said. Potter said he would take her motion under advisement at next month's meeting.

"I feel that the Republican Party in Loudoun County is not equitably represented within the committee because the committee has not been vigilant in adhering to the membership," said Wolfe, who submitted information to Rich about the possible membership violation and the distribution of delegates. "What is happening is we have certain districts that are full, and we have other districts, and specifically precincts, without any members."

The Republican Committee has been accepting members without confirming whether the appropriate slot is available, Wolfe said. "You can see some districts seem unusually high with delegates and some unusually low. That doesn't look correct," she said.

JOSEPH MAIO of Voters to Stop Sprawl said the Republican Committee will end up selecting candidates that are "so extreme, they’re not electable. … They think they can win elections. You have to have candidates of the people to win elections."

Maio, who is an independent, said a "splinter group" of Republicans, including right-wing extremists, fiscal conservatives and special interest groups, have taken over the Republican Committee and cut out the majority of moderate Republicans. "Instead of fighting them, the [moderate Republicans] vote for independents and Democrats," he said. "It makes my job more difficult. I try to get people who represent the people of Loudoun County."

Maio suspects after the November 2003 election, mainstream Republicans will gain control of the committee. "The issue [of growth control] will be largely over after the next election," he said. "These issues will be settled in the courts and in the political process."

The Republican Committee’s convention is scheduled on May 31 and will be held at Heritage High School in Leesburg. Republicans wanting to serve as delegates have until March 22 to file. Candidates for office have until March 1 and are required to pay filing fees, which are $1,000 for the Board of Supervisors chairman and the constitutional officers and $500 for Board of Supervisors members. If needed, a party canvass will be held on April 12.