At a news conference in Falmouth on Friday morning, a composed but clearly angry Peter J. Fields sharply criticized his defeated opponent, Alvin Y. Bandy, for what he termed an "unethical" attempt to push through key appointments before he vacates his seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors next month.
Bandy has submitted three nominations--for members of the Planning Commission, Transportation and Safety Board and Parks and Recreation Commission--and the supervisors will take up the issue Tuesday at Bandy's final meeting, after 28 years on the board. Members of these commissions serve four-year terms, raising the possibility that Fields, who also will serve a four-year term, might never have a say in whom he works with.
"I simply feel [the appointments] are not ethical," Fields said before a crowd of about 20. "I wouldn't do this to someone else, and I don't wish it done to me. This is all based on what I honestly feel about the democratic process. I'm not trying to get back at Mr. Bandy, but I feel like the margin in the election says that a substantial majority of voters feel this way."
Fields is particularly incensed about the possibility that he will not be able to nominate a planning commissioner.
"I feel I need a relationship of shared goals and shared ideas," with the planning commissioner, Fields said, adding that if he is to institute the slow-growth agenda that got him elected Nov. 2, he will need to work well with the Planning Commission.
In addition to blasting Bandy's actions, Fields asked that the sitting supervisors defer making those appointments until he takes office Jan. 1.
"I'm not making threats or demands," Fields said, "but I am making an uncompromised request."
Fields added that if the appointments did go through, he would likely ask those people to resign.
Supervisor David R. Beiler (I-Falmouth), who also spoke against Bandy's actions at the news conference, said that he would push to delay making the appointments until the newly elected board meets. Beiler faced a similar situation when he was elected two years ago, and said he is still upset about being left out of the process.
"I'm not here to support Pete Fields," Beiler told the crowd. "I'm here to support the democratic process."
Fields was swept into office with 58 percent of the vote last month when voters eschewed Bandy's policies and took to Fields's ardent anti-growth stances. What began as a cordial race between two men who had never met quickly turned antagonistic before ending in a swell of bitterness that has only grown worse since the election.
At board meetings, Bandy has been visibly perturbed, repeatedly referring to Fields as "sneaky Pete," lashing out at his fellow supervisors and, on one occasion, telling a member of the public to "shut up."
Supervisor Lindbergh A. Fritter (R-Griffis-Widewater), who lost his seat to Jack Cavalier last month, has said publicly that he will leave his district's appointments to Cavalier and that he opposes what Bandy is trying to do.
Other supervisors disagree, setting the stage for a heated showdown at Tuesday's meeting. Supervisor Ferris M. Belman Sr. (I-At Large) said that although it makes more sense for incoming supervisors to choose the officials, he is so mad about the public way that Fields and the Democratic Party complained that he is going to vote against them.
"I've said many times that it makes more sense to have the incoming person do it, they're the ones elected," Belman said. "But I'm so upset over this I'm going to vote with Mr. Bandy."
Despite Belman's ire, he said that he may be forced to miss Tuesday's meeting because he is scheduled to start physical therapy on his shoulder, which was surgically repaired this month.
Even though he doesn't face the same situation as Fields, Cavalier also spoke at the news conference, issuing a sharp warning to the members he will be joining next month.
"Mr. Bandy, I believe, is being vindictive toward Mr. Fields," Cavalier said. The board "is going to have to work with me and Pete, it's no longer just the good ol' boy network. Stafford County voted for change this time, and there could be three new people next time."
In addition to Cavalier and Beiler, Fields was supported by speakers from the NAACP, Sierra Club, Stafford County Citizen's Alliance and Citizens to Serve Stafford.
Bandy did not return calls seeking comment.