Letters to New Kent County – Installment 6

Dear Friends in New Kent,

The Tidewater and Big Bend Foundation’s newsletter continues with this installment describing more of the controversy that arose between the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the New Kent Board of Supervisors (BOS) in December and January.

The actions of a simple majority of the New Kent Board of Supervisors, including two Supervisors who would not be serving in the term commencing January 1, 2024, provoked a second letter from the Attorney General on January 5, 2024. In the weeks between the December 13 letter and January 5, the Board appointed an interim candidate selected by the outgoing Board without the participation of the newly elected Board members. The interim candidate was appointed to serve as the District 3 Supervisor not only for the remainder of Ms. Paige’s short term but for a period extending to the next election in November, 2024. These actions may, in my opinion, have been motivated by the growth-oriented members of the BOS.

Please recall from the prior installment that the quotations here are simply excerpted from the Deputy Attorney General’s correspondence. The complete version is available upon request to the Office of the County Administrator.

Commonwealth of Virginia, Office of the Attorney General – January 5, 2024

“On December 13, 2023, I mailed a letter to Mr. C. Thomas Tiller, Jr., the former Chairman of the New Kent County Board of Supervisors, advising him of certain concerns that the Office of the Attorney General had received concerning the Board’s intention to make an interim appointment to the Board for a vacancy that had not yet occurred…”

“The Office of the Attorney General then learned that the Board proceeded to make an interim appointment during its work session meeting on December 18, 2023. The appointment purported to be for the vacancy for the term of office ending December 31, 2023, and for the first year of the new term of office, January 1, 2024, through December 31, 2024.” “This action violates Virginia law…”

The letter continues, “As I’m certain you are aware, the Attorney General has already taken steps to intervene in the related matter of the previous Board’s unlawful attempt to petition the New Kent County Circuit Court for a writ of special election for a vacancy that had not yet occurred…”

This New Kent drama continued until January 31, when the Attorney General wrote the Board for the third time. His office referenced a Board motion on January 10, 2024, resulting in the “unlawful” appointment of the interim candidate to the District 3 Supervisor’s position. Thereafter the BOS seems to have respected the Attorney General’s direction and, in the same general time-frame, the New Kent County Attorney discovered a verdict in an earlier legal case that established a precedent for its prior actions.

However, the third letter also revealed other infractions:

Commonwealth of Virginia, Office of the Attorney General – January 31, 2024

“For this reason, the previous (2023) Board’s petition of the New Kent County Circuit Court for a writ of special election was premature and unlawful. Indeed, at the Board’s January 10, 2024, meeting it entertained a motion to appoint the interim member to the Board. How could the Board appoint (name omitted) to the Board as an interim member to fill a vacancy without there being a vacancy for her to fill?…Furthermore, it has now come to the attention of the Attorney General that the previous (2023) Board may not have complied with the public meeting requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act…in its voting on matters regarding the writ of special election and/or may not have properly authorized the New Kent County Attorney – (name omitted) – to make such a filing…To the extent the Board failed to comply with VFOIA, its actions may be void…”

The Foundation believes that the voters of New Kent County are entitled to be aware of this heretofore unpublicized interplay between the BOS and the Attorney General’s office. Our principal worry is that a growth-oriented majority on the New Kent Board of Supervisors, at least through 2024, would accommodate developers whom we believe are willing to transform New Kent into an over commercialized version of East Henrico County for private gain.

John Poindexter

New Kent County

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