Liberal Virginia prosecutors’ ouster sought by petition

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A Virginia-based group with Republican ties is launching an effort to have three liberal prosecutors in northern Virginia removed from office.

The group called Virginians for Safe Communities said it will collect petitions seeking to oust the three prosecutors who were elected in 2019 on reform-based agendas — Steve Descano in Fairfax County, Buta Biberaj in Loudoun County and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in Arlington County.

The group blames the prosecutors for an increase in crime, arguing that they’ve gone soft on criminals.

They are seeking to use a process in Virginia law that allows for a trial of sorts if petitioners collect signatures equal to 10% of the votes cast in that official’s election. If the signatures are collected, a judge could then hold a trial to determine whether the official has engaged in “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties.”

Conservatives in northern Virginia upset about prolonged school closures have launched a similar effort against some school board members. A hearing is scheduled later this month in the first such petition submitted against Fairfax County school board member Elaine Tholen.

In a tweet, Descano said, “Our reform agenda has been embraced by the vast majority of Fairfax County residents. But a fringe group of far-right Republicans is seeking – in true Trump fashion – to undermine the will of the voters by recalling me and reformist NoVa colleagues.”

Two of the group’s board members, Sean Kennedy and Ian Prior, have previously worked for Republican officials and organizations. But they say their effort is nonpartisan.

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