On February 4th, 2017 the petition to recall Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy from office reached 527 signatures, the minimum threshold to force a “misuse of office” trial as required by state law. This follows public outcry which led to his resignation from both the Virginia Board of Education and his teaching position at Albemarle High School. Bellamy made news locally through a racially charged campaign to remove the statue of Robert E Lee from Lee Park in Charlottesville and by boycotting the restaurant of Douglas Muir, a tax-paying business owner who criticized Black Lives Matter on Facebook. Following these incidents Bellamy made national news when this news site exposed a series of anti-white, anti-gay and pro-rape tweets he’d made spanning the last 7 years.
Can the petition remove Wes Bellamy from office? Yes. Virginia Code § 24.2-233 states that, "Upon petition, a circuit court may remove from office any elected officer or officer who has been appointed to fill an elective office, residing within the jurisdiction of the court."
Why are you arguing Bellamy should be removed from office? We are arguing that Bellamy misused his office by participating in discriminatory and hateful behavior which violated the civil rights of his constituents. He used his position to discriminate against white, female and gay constituents by linking his Vice-Mayor of Charlottesville title to hate speech against these groups. We’re also alleging that his legislative agenda has been part of a racial attack against the white constituents he has said he “does not like”, “does not listen to in community meetings”, “hates seeing around town” and more.
Further there are ethical violations stemming from using his position as Vice-Mayor to lobby for a phony charity called Young Black Professionals Network, which he used to take in thousands of dollars but did not registered as a charity with the state of Virginia or with the IRS as required by law. He may also have run afoul of Virginia lobbying statutes.
Why is the number of signatures 527 and not some other number? According to Ballotpedia, “The petition for recall must be signed by at least 10% of the number of people who voted in the last election for the office being recalled.” Since Bellamy received 5,270 votes in the most recent election that number is 527.
What happens to the petition now that it has the required number of signatures? First, we are going to get some “insurance signatures”. Only Charlottesville residents who are registered to vote may sign the petition. We are going to get more than the required number of signatures in case anyone who signed was ineligible to do so.
Second, we are going to turn the petition in to the Charlottesville Circuit Court where it will be filed.
What happens next? Will Bellamy be removed from office? Possibly. This is up to the courts to decide. Here is the process that Virginia law calls for:
1. Bellamy will be subpoenaed to appear in court.
2. An attorney for the state will be appointed to prosecute Bellamy for “misuse of office”.
3. Following conclusion of the trial Bellamy may be suspended from office.
If you have not signed the petition yet and wish to do so you may request a copy of the petition by emailing TheMadDimension@gmail.com