Republican Bob Weir has won the election to appoint a new supervisor to the Prince William County board.
Weir had run on a platform against data center development in rural areas of the Virginia County amid ongoing opposition to the massive PW Digital Gateway data center campus planned outside Manassas.
According to the Virginia Department of Elections’ unofficial results published today, Haymarket Town Councilor Weir won more than 60 percent of the special election vote against Democrat Kerensa Sumers, with 16 of 17 precincts reporting results.
Weir won eight of 14 precincts, including Heritage Hunt, an area where many residents are against the neighboring PW Gateway project. He also narrowly won the Catharpin precinct, where most of the Gateway will reside. Voting was briefly impacted by an error that meant pre-printed ballots were too wide to fit into the optical scanners.
“Words can not express my appreciation for all of those who spent hours, days, and weeks supporting my effort. Yesterday’s victory was a WE, not ME event. I hope that I can live up to your expectations,” Weir said on his Facebook page.
Weir has previously served as a Haymarket councilor for almost a dozen years and has served on the town’s planning commission for most of that time.
The Gainesville seat had been empty since December after Republican Supervisor Pete Candland stood down over his involvement in the PW Digital Gateway data center project.
Candland was initially against the Gateway project, but later became one of the landowners part of the proposal and excused himself from the vote. At the time he said he had no choice but to sell or see his home surrounded by data centers. Candland was subject to a lawsuit and a recall effort by angry residents over his involvement in the project.
After the vote to allow the project to go ahead in November, Cadland stood down the following month after the Commonwealth’s Attorney recommended that he not participate in votes on the county’s Comprehensive Plan or any data center projects in the county due to his property being part of the Gateway project.
Weir has run on a platform against data center development in rural or residential areas. Weir previously said he is not necessarily opposed to data centers, he has said the county should focus on small businesses instead of data center revenue to increase its tax base.
"Data centers don't belong in certain areas," Weir previously said. "They don't belong next to elementary schools. They don't belong next to residential neighborhoods."
“One data center next to a school is one too many. How many times will the BOCS [Board of County Supervisors] repeat this mistake?,” he posted earlier this week. “Perceived tax revenues should not trump our children's educational opportunities or quality of life.”
Sumers’ data center position had been more moderate, calling for ‘responsible development’ but not near residential communities, schools, activity centers, or historic heritage sites.
Despite the appointment of Weir, the board remains a 5-3 Democrat majority, with all of the Democrat supervisors in favor of the project.