Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted 6-2 Tuesday to appoint former county Democratic committee chairman Harry Wiggins to the Prince William County Service Authority board after Republican supervisors and more than a dozen residents requested his name be withdrawn from consideration.
Board Chair Ann Wheeler, D-At Large, moved to appoint Wiggins to the service authority board. Supervisors Yesli Vega, R-Coles, and Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, voted against the appointment.
The Prince William County Service Authority is the largest combined water and wastewater utility in Virginia, serving approximately 348,000 customers. The board of directors governs PWCSA, appoints the general manager, sets policies, adopts rates and charges, authorizes expenditures and legal action, and issues notes and bonds, according to the service authority website.
The service authority’s board members serve four-year terms and are appointed by individual Prince William County supervisors.
Wiggins, a resident of Lake Ridge, was fined $500 by the Virginia Board of Elections in 2018 in connection with campaign activity local Republicans say was intended to affect the outcome of a November 2018 special election for school board chairman.
There were three contenders for the school board chairmanship in 2018: current Chair Dr. Babur Lateef, who was interim chair at the time and was endorsed by the county Democratic committee; Gainesville School Board Representative Alyson Satterwhite, who was endorsed by the local GOP committee; and Stanley Bender, who did not run with a party endorsement.
Wiggins founded a political action committee called “Republicans for Stanley Bender” ahead of the November 2018 election.The local GOP committee said red signs reading “Republicans for Stanley Bender" were placed at 34 polling places and were intended to confuse voters with misinformation about which candidate the GOP endorsed in the nonpartisan race.
Wiggins also carried a handmade sign at a 2018 gun control rally calling several area Republican politicians “whores” for the NRA. The names included on Wiggins’ protest sign included that of Lawson and former Occoquan District Supervisor Ruth Anderson (R).
Before the vote, Lawson asked Wheeler to withdraw her nomination of Wiggins to the service authority the board.
“He has personally called me a whore,” Lawson said. “He has demonized other women that don’t have the political ideology that he shares.”
Lawson argued that Wheeler had applied a different standard to Wiggins than she had to Wheeler’s opponent in last year’s election: GOP Chair candidate John Gray, whose demeaning comments about women on Twitter became a major focus of the campaign. During the weeks before the election, Wheeler said Gray’s tweets were “completely unacceptable” and demanded Gray apologize to Prince William County voters.
About a dozen Prince William County residents also requested that Wheeler rescind Wiggins’ appointment during the Tuesday, Feb. 4 meeting. Vega said she received 36 emails from constituents ahead of the meeting opposing Wiggins’ appointment to the service authority board.
Brentsville District resident Dottie Miller, speaking at the meeting, said Wiggins lacks the character to serve on any county boards or committees.
“He has been disrespectful to women and has even belittled women on this board, calling them derogatory names. I strongly believe that our county deserves better,” Miller said.
Joann Watts, vice chair or the Prince William Republican Committee, said Wiggins does not deserve to sit on any board position in Prince William County.
Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, said he did not agree with Wheeler’s decision to name Wiggins to the service authority board but voted in favor of the appointment because he did not want to break the board’s longstanding tradition of unanimously approving the appointments of other board members.
“I’m extremely disappointed in this appointment. I don’t agree with it. I think it’s harmful and divisive for the community. I think it’s a slap in the face to members of this board and to this community,” Candland said.
In response to the comments, Wheeler dismissed Lawson’s comparison of Wiggins to Gray, saying he is not running for elected office to represent the county residents. Wheeler further said she does not believe Wiggins will bring his politics to the service authority board and said she believed he was qualified to serve on the board.
A few other Democrats defended Wiggins during the meeting. Current Prince William County Democratic Committee Chairman Collin Robinson said Wiggins’ has been a passionate advocate for Prince William County schools, while Barbara Larrimore, a former Lake Ridge resident and vice chair of the Brentsville District Democratic Committee, praised Wiggins’ intelligence.
Wiggins did not attend the supervisors' meeting.
Wiggins is a former vice president of Lockheed Martin who holds master’s degrees in business administration and public administration, according to his LinkedIn page. Wiggins did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.
Reach Daniel Berti at email@example.com