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Virginia Politics
Posted at 07:00 PM ET, 07/01/2011

Fairfax County school board candidate with top Democratic endorsements drops out of race because of pending criminal charges

A Fairfax County School Board candidate who carried the endorsements of the local Democratic Party and Rep.Gerry Connolly has withdrawn from the race after it was learned that she is facing assault charges in the District for allegedly hitting a woman with her car near the Supreme Court building on the day of the annual Right to Life March.

Charisse Espy Glassman, a Falls Church resident who is the niece of former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, told party members she is stepping down from the at-large school board campaign because of personal and family matters, according to Rex Simmons, chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

“It’s official,” Simmons said Friday. He also said neither he nor any other party leaders were aware of any problems in her background before the endorsements and declined to discuss the reasons behind her departure.

Court records from Superior Court in the District of Columbia say Glassman was charged with assault and possession of a prohibited weapon after the Jan. 24 incident.

The court records and a Democratic party source say Glassman was driving out of an alley at 3:44 p.m. in the 100 block of 1st St. NE near the Supreme Court building where there was a crowd of people taking part in the March for Life. A woman stepped in front of Glassman’s car, yelling at her to stop because of all the people around, the court papers say. Glassman allegedly laughed, revved her engine and moved forward. When the woman stepped back, Glassman allegedly kept laughing, moved forward again and hit the woman in the legs, the court records say. The woman suffered minor injuries.

Glassman denied intentionally striking the woman and said she was just trying to back up, the court papers say. Police say there is also video of the incident.

In response to an email requesting comment, Glassman maintained her innocence and issued a statement saying she was leaving the campaign because staying would be a “distraction” from the need to focus on children. Her statement also denied that she had hit anyone and disputed the circumstances of the arrest, saying her car had been surrounded by demonstrators who banged on the car and frightened her.

 In a separate e-mail, Glassman’s attorney Barry Coburn said, “Ms. Glassman maintains her innocence and looks forward to defending against these allegations at trial.”

 The development scrambled the Democratic slate of endorsed candidates in a busy election year in which both parties are deploying for a school board election that has attracted more attention than usual because of the number of retirees and controversies involving the school board and the district.

Simmons said county Democrats will meet July 26 to decide whom to endorse for the school board contests. A steering committee will draw up proposed rules on whether to open the floor to anyone or only to candidates who had been in the running before the party made its endorsements.

The school board races are nonpartisan, in that the candidates do not run as party nominees on an official ballot, but the parties freely endorse preferred candidates.

Glassman’s complete statement follows:

“Regrettably, Charisse has had to withdraw from the Fairfax County School Board At - Large race.  This would have been a distraction to the non-partisan election in November.  The campaign needs to focus on helping our children in schools.

“In January, while leaving an office building, Charisse’s car was surrounded by demonstrators.  The demonstrators surrounded her car and proceeded to bang on it.

“They frightened her.  Capitol Hill Police officers came on the scene.  Charisse was instructed by Capitol Hill Police to move her car to a safe location away from the demonstrators.  One demonstrator claimed she was hit by the car.

“Charisse maintains her innocence.”

By and  |  07:00 PM ET, 07/01/2011

 
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