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K.G. official steps aside on votes 19 times
King George supervisor doesn't vote on development-related projects because he hopes to bid on them later

 Mullen
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Date published: 8/30/2009

By CATHY DYSON

During the 20 months that James Mullen has served on the King George County Board of Supervisors, he has disqualified himself from voting 19 times.

Each time the board deals with construction projects, such as approving new subdivisions or expanding county buildings, the Dahlgren District representative doesn't voice an opinion.

He disqualifies himself on the basis of possible future conflicts, which is what a law professor said a supervisor should do.

Mullen, 59, runs an excavation business in Dahlgren and wants to be able to bid on projects that come before the board, he said.

"Being in business, I have to look out for my company," he said recently. "That's the simple reason."

Mullen points out that his vote wouldn't have made a difference. The 19 development-related issues that he didn't vote on were denied or passed by fellow supervisors by a 4-0 or 3-1 vote.

The recent Fairview Beach rezoning looked as if it might have had a different outcome. Supervisors held a public hearing in June for a request to replace an aging trailer park with luxury townhouses.

At that meeting, Mullen disqualified himself, left his seat among supervisors and sat in the audience beside Bob Moesle, spokesman for the development company.

At Moesle's request, Mullen said, he also gave him his card, listing his contact information as a King George supervisor.

After citizens spoke about the rezoning, the supervisors shared their thoughts, and opinions were divided.

Cedell Brooks Jr. said he wouldn't support the rezoning, and Chairman Joe Grzeika had concerns about the proffers the developer was offering the county.

Dale Sisson Jr. and James Howard, whose district includes Fairview Beach, favored the project.

Had the board voted that night, it might have been a 2-2 split. A tie caused by the fact that Mullen would not have voted would have killed the proposal.

When the rezoning came up for a vote in August, Mullen disqualified himself once more. This time, all four fellow supervisors supported the project.

Mullen, who has been in the site-work business for 37 years, said he consults his lawyer or County Attorney Matt Britton about disqualifying himself.

Britton wouldn't discuss the matter because of attorney-client privilege. He said there are no sections in the Virginia Code that speak to Mullen's situation.


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