Replacing Local Officials
If a local elected official leaves office, the remaining members typically appoint a replacement to serve until the next general election. City of Charlottesville is served locally by the following officials: A five-member City Council, including the Mayor A seven-member elected School Board Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District Directors Elected Constitutional Officers Commissioner of Revenue A Treasurer Sheriff Commonwealth’s Attorney Circuit Court Clerk
Albemarle County is served locally by the following officials: A six-member Board of Supervisors A seven-member elected School Board Elected Constitutional Officers Sheriff Commonwealth’s Attorney Circuit Court Clerk
Local officials in Virginia include Treasurer, Commissioner of the Revenue, Sheriff, Commonwealth's Attorney, and Clerk of the Circuit Court. These five positions are known as "constitutional officers." State law requires a special election to fill a vacancy in a constitutional office, unless it becomes vacant less than 12 months before the term was supposed to end.
No section of the city’s charter allows for expulsion of a member of the council or the school board.
The charter for the City of Charlottesville requires that elected local officials must live within the city limits. The residency requirement in the charter applies to incumbents as well as to candidates for office. If an elected official moves their official residence out of the city limits, the official must vacate the office and allow for a replacement to be chosen. In January 2019, city school board member Amy Laufer resigned after moving out of the city.  Former member and chair Ned Michie returned to the board on an interim basis to replace Laufer, but did not want to run for a full term. Laufer (Democratic Party) ran for election to the Virginia State Senate to represent District 17. She lost in the general election on November 5, 2019.
Under Virginia law, a convicted felon can't run for or hold public office until his/her rights are restored. Any person convicted of a felony automatically loses certain civil rights, including the right to vote; to run for and hold public office; to serve on a jury and to serve as a notary public. (*)
- (*) The Constitution of Virginia gives the Governor the sole discretion to restore civil rights, not including firearm rights.
No section of the city’s charter allows for voters to recall officials before their term is completed via an early election.
The state does have a unique "recall trial" process. Circuit Court judges have the authority to remove local elected officials, if they determine the person has violated standards of conduct. A petition must be signed by 10% of the total number of votes cast at the last election for the office involved, and a specific cause must be cited in a petition to the judge. Virginia is one of the few states that does not use recall elections to remove elected officials. The process, while requiring citizen petitions, calls for a “recall trial” rather than an election. After a petition containing the required number of signatures is verified, a circuit court decides whether a Virginia official will be removed from office. 
§ 24.2-233. Removal of elected and certain appointed officers by courts. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title24.2/chapter2/section24.2-233/ Code § 24.2-233 states acceptable reasons for recall when it has "material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office" include:
- Neglect of duty
- Misuse of office
- Incompetence in the performance of duties
Other acceptable reasons include:
- Conviction of a misdemeanor relating to drugs
- Conviction of a misdemeanor involving a "hate crime" as that term is defined in § 52-8.5
- Mayor and city council recall (2017)
- Vice-mayor Wes Bellamy recall (2017)
In February 2017, in an effort to recall Vice-mayor Wes Bellamy from his seat on the Charlottesville City Council, local activist Jason Kessler filed a petition which included 597 signatures (over 10% of the votes Bellamy received in the last election). Kessler believed he had submitted enough signatures to the circuit court to force a “recall trial.” In March 2017, Judge Richard Moore dismissed Kessler's petition due to a lack of sufficient number of signatures. While Bellamy individually received 4,688 votes in the 2015 election, records show a turnout of 15,798 votes in the election for the office being recalled. In that election, three City Council seats were open, allowing each voter to cast as many as three votes.
- Virginia has an unusual recall provision called a “recall trial.” No other state has this provision. Under the provisions of § 24.1-165 of the Code of Virginia, the recall trial standard would require voters gather signatures equal to 10% of turnout in the last election for the office being recalled. Then, instead of a public vote, a judge would hold a trial to determine if the elected official violated a specified list of statutory rules. The list includes neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence and conviction on a number of misdemeanors. There are very few recall trials in Virginia history.
- Albemarle supervisor Chris Dumler recall (2013)
City council vacancy
When a vacancy occurs in a local governing body or an elected school board, the remaining members of the body or board, respectively, within 45 days of the office becoming vacant, may appoint a qualified voter of the election district in which the vacancy occurred to fill the vacancy. If a majority of the remaining members of the body or board cannot agree, or do not act, the judges of the circuit court of the county or city may make the appointment.  Since the Virginia has a general election every year in November and repeal of sections of the City Charter granted by the General Assembly in 2020 changed municipal elections from May to November - That means that the term of an appointed, rather than an elected, member is limited to less than a year, and the local jurisdiction does not have to pay for a special election. Historically, when a city elected official vacated their office, the remaining members of the city council, school board, county board of supervisors, or Soil and Water Conservation Districts appointed a former member as replacement to serve until the next general election. The premise being, all members are elected at-large rather than by political party or ward, so all voters were still represented. In 1943, at the request of city council, Fred L. Watson, who had dropped off the council for several years after his second term ended in 1932, returned to fill out the unexpired term of Charles P. Nash, who had resigned to accept duty in the Marine Corps. Watson was re-elected by city voters in 1944, while Captain Nash was reappointed to the Council in 1946 upon his return from military service, to fill out the unexpired term of W. S. Hildreth.
Should a vacancy occur in the office of mayor, the council is to elect one of its members as mayor for the remainder of “the term.” According to 2020 city charter amendments: “At its first meeting in January 2022 and biennially thereafter, the council shall elect one of its members to act as mayor, who shall preside at its meetings and continue in office two years.” § 8. Vacancy in office of mayor or councilor; vacation of office. Whenever, from any cause, a vacancy shall occur in the office of mayor, the council shall elect one of its members as mayor for the remainder of the term. A vacancy in the office of councilor shall be filled by that body in accordance with the general laws of the Commonwealth. An entry of said election shall be made in the journal of proceedings and the General Ordinance Book. If the mayor or a councilor shall remove from the city limits, such removal shall operate to vacate such mayor's or councilor's office. (1946, c. 384; 2020, cc. 813, 814)
Constitutional officers vacancy
Local officials in Virginia also include Treasurer, Commissioner of the Revenue, Sheriff, Commonwealth's Attorney, and Clerk of the Circuit Court. These five positions are known as "constitutional officers." State law requires a special election to fill a vacancy in a constitutional office, unless it becomes vacant less than 12 months before the term was supposed to end. The highest ranking deputy officer, or in the case of the office of attorney for the Commonwealth, the highest ranking full-time assistant attorney for the Commonwealth, who is qualified to vote for and hold that office, shall be vested with the powers and shall perform all of the duties of the office, and shall be entitled to all the privileges and protections afforded by law to elected or appointed constitutional officers, for the remainder of the unexpired term.
24.2-228.1. Election to fill vacancy in constitutional office," Title 24.2. Elections - Chapter 2. Federal, Commonwealth, and Local Officers - Article 6. Vacancies in Elected Constitutional and Local Offices, Code of Virginia, https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/24.2-228.1/;
- Web. Laufer resigns from city School Board; McKeever elected as chairwoman, Josh Mandell, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, January 10, 2019, retrieved January 14, 2019.