The Open FCPS Coalition is calling for the court to reconsider the recall case against Fairfax County School Board member Elaine Tholen. In a Monday press release, the coalition alleged that the prosecutor who said there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue the case had conflicts of interest.
“Following James Hingeley’s decision to not represent the over 5,000 voters that signed a recall petition against Elaine Tholen, it was revealed that Hingeley actually campaigned with Ms. Tholen in 2019,” the release states.
Virginia’s unique recall law places commonwealth’s attorneys in charge of prosecuting recall trials, and limits the reasons for those recalls. Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano is himself facing two separate recall efforts. He recused himself from the Tholen recall case and recommended Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Hingeley. In August, Hingeley asked the court to dismiss the recall petition, saying it did not have factual allegations that met the legal standard. That left recall petitioners with few options, since they aren’t parties to the case.
But on Saturday, Open FCPS filed a motion to reconsider, saying that in addition to Hingeley’s campaign activity with Tholen, he had once served as a school board member where another member tried to remove him, and saying that Hingeley’s wife works for Fairfax County in a role with ties to the school board.
“Five thousand parents and citizens were silenced by a single politician simply because he did not want to represent them in court,” Open FCPS Founder Dee O’Neal said in the press release, echoing criticisms the coalition made in court and after the August dismissal.
“I disagree with that,” Hingeley said in court according to a Tholen press release. He added that his decision “was not in any way ideologically driven.”
– – –