Fingergate Aside, Purcellville Council Seeks Mechanism to Review Citizen Complaints

The supercharged political scene in Purcellville showed no signs of abating last night during the final Town Council meeting before the May 3 elections.

Over the objections of Mayor Kwasi Fraser and Councilman Karen Jimmerson, the council agreed to discuss the complaint filed by the brother of a council candidate alleging inappropriate public conduct by Jimmerson.

Councilman Doug McCollum made the motion to bring the issue to the floor, winning support of four other council members.

In the formal complaint filed with Town Manager Robert W. Lohr Jr. on April 21, Casey Chapman alleged that Jimmerson made an offensive hand gesture to him following an exchange during the Purcellville Business Association’s April 12 candidate luncheon. His brother, Sam Chapman, is running for a seat on council.

Jimmerson denied she had ever made such a gesture, and accused Casey Chapman of defamation and libel, suggesting that the Chapman brothers were making the accusation to discredit her and the candidates she is supporting in the election.

McCollum noted that the town’s Code of Ethics does not contain any provisions for handling such complaints, and said citizens and council members alike must know there is a process by which they may be fairly judged.

Several other candidates attended the meeting and spoke in defense of Jimmerson. Chris Bledsoe, Kelli Grim and Nedim Ogelman praise her as a good civic-minded public servant.

Sandy Nave, who is running in a three-way special election to fill a two-year term on council, also spoke. She highlighted a separate incident at the April 16 Purcellville Gazette’s candidate forum, in which she and other candidates saw Jimmerson making a similar offensive gesture to Sam Chapman while he was seated on stage with the other candidates. “I know what I saw,” she said.

Nave said she has received antagonistic emails for speaking out, but urged the council to address the conduct, saying council members should “make this right and move on.”

“I did not intend or make the gesture,” Jimmerson said.

Sam Chapman attended the meeting, but did not speak on the issue.

The council members focused on developing a procedure to address such complaints. In the end, Town Attorney Sally Hankins was directed to return with recommendations for the council to consider.

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