STERLING, Va. (AP) — Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio said Wednesday that a court case seeking his removal from office is a wrongheaded attempt to disenfranchise voters who elected him four times.
On Tuesday, opponents of the Republican supervisor submitted a petition to a Loudoun County judge seeking his ouster under a rarely used law that allows removal for "neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties."
The judge took the case after the group Sterling Deserves Better turned in a petition required under Virginia signed by more than 540 voters in Delgaudio's Sterling District.
An organizer of Sterling Deserves Better, Al Nevarez, is a Democratic Party activist who ran against Delgaudio in 2011 and lost by 15 points.
The petition cites an investigation last year into whether Delgaudio used his county staff to support his conservative nonprofit group, Public Advocate of the United States, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A special grand jury declined to indict him, but his fellow supervisors censured him.
Delgaudio said in a phone interview Wednesday that he looks forward to defending his record in court. A hearing is set for Tuesday.
Delgaudio has developed a national reputation as an opponent of gay rights, though he says his popularity with Sterling voters stems from his accessibility and devotion to local issues like fixing potholes. He says the effort to remove him is fueled by people angry over his outspoken advocacy for traditional marriage.
"All of it's related to Public Advocate," Delgaudio said. "They don't like me being president of a policy group that advocates traditional marriage."