A member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors who was seeking the board chairmanship dropped out of the contest Monday following revelations of an extensive record of legal troubles, including multiple DUI arrests and domestic incidents at his home.
Shawn Williams, vice chairman of the county board, revealed in a statement published over the weekend by Leesburg Today that he has had “multiple arrests” for driving under the influence. He also admitted that he was “taken into custody” after an altercation at his grandmother’s house involving a former girlfriend and that sheriff’s deputies have been called to his home over altercations with a neighbor and with his wife. No charges resulted from any of the domestic calls, Williams said.
“It is embarrassing and humbling to share these mistakes in such a public way, but it’s important that you hear it from me,” Williams (R-Broad Run) wrote in his statement, which was published before he made the decision to quit his political campaign. “Most of this occurred long before I was elected to the Board of Supervisors and none of it ever affected my judgment as a public servant. Most importantly, I’ve taken steps in my life to learn from these mistakes and make sure they never happen again. I ask for your forgiveness.”
In the statement published in Leesburg Today, Williams accused Leesburg lawyer Charles King, his opponent in the Republican primary for board chairman, of starting a “whisper campaign” about his past troubles. King declined to comment on the allegations specifically. He said that Williams made the “correct” decision and that he respects it.
Williams told The Washington Post on Monday that the decision to drop out came after the race became “a little uglier” than he had expected, and that he thought the demand of a countywide race would distract from the board’s focus on establishing the fiscal 2016 budget.
“I think it was going to be a fairly hotly contested chairman race for the nomination in May, and we’re getting ready to start a really intense budget process, and I feel like we’re already just kind of keeping our head above water with the workload,” he said.
Williams said he welcomed the opportunity to concentrate on serving his constituents during the remainder of his term. “I’ve always said I’ll do this until I don’t enjoy it anymore,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed serving my community, but unfortunately with some of these local races, there is a lot of ugliness to it in terms of people taking potshots and criticizing you, and I don’t need to put myself through all that.”
With Williams out of the race, King has no opponent in the primary. He will probably face Democrat Phyllis Randall, a member of Virginia’s Fair Housing Board and vice chairman of the state Board of Corrections, in the general election.
That means the top position in a fast-changing county — known for its tumultuous politics and wealthy residents — will be filled by a newcomer to the board. The board is Republican, but Loudoun voted blue in the past two presidential elections — something it hadn’t done since the 1960s.
Chairman Scott K. York, who has held the top post on the board for 15 years, announced last month that he would not seek reelection. He endorsed Williams as his successor.
York declined to comment on Williams’s exit from the race.
Williams’s tenure on the board will end in November. He gave up the ability to seek reelection by running for chairman.
He said he had been meeting with potential candidates for his replacement, and he will support Ron Meyer, 25, a public relations professional and conservative pundit who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D).
Williams said in the published statement that he has had multiple arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol in addition to less-serious traffic infractions.
“There was a time in my life when I abused alcohol. I have no excuse for being such a reckless and selfish young man,” he wrote in the published statement. “I have sought and received counseling and treatment for my alcohol abuse.”
Williams did not say where the DUI arrests occurred, how many there were or whether any resulted in convictions.
In 2006, according to court records, Williams was charged with first-degree assault in Worcester County, Md., related to the altercation at his grandmother’s home. The charges were later dropped.
Williams also said officers have visited his house a number of times but no charges were filed. He said Loudoun deputies came to his house after an altercation with his wife and again after he got into a dispute with a neighbor following a cookout.
“My neighbor and I are close friends, but that night we got into an argument,” he wrote. “It was embarrassing for both of us, nothing more came of the incident, and we remain good friends today.”