Eligibility for felon running for school board seat in jeopardy after court ruling

Posted at 12:22 AM, Jul 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-30 00:28:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond School Board candidate's campaign is up in the air after a ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court last week.

Third district school board candidate Kevin Starlings was able to enter the race because his rights were restored by Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order earlier this year.

McAuliffe’s order was stuck down by the Virginia Supreme Court, saying the restoration of voting rights of more than 206,000 convicted felons must be handled on a case-by-case basis.

So what does the reversal of those rights mean?

Starlings sat down with CBS 6 reporter Shelby Brown to talk about his past crime and his campaign.

"A voice is everything. That’s why I’m running, to be a voice for our children," Starlings said.

Kevin Starlings

Kevin Starlings

But will a past felony conviction derail his plan to seek office?

CBS 6 was contacted by some voters who are questioning the validity of Starlings’ campaign, after the decision by the Virginia Supreme Court.

According to court documents, Starlings embezzled money from his employer, CarMax in Newport News in 2008. He was ultimately indicted and plead guilty to the crime.

Starlings who had worked at CarMax for more than three years as a business operations manager, admitted he used false returns to take money from the company, according to court documents.

He was sentenced to ten years in prison with all ten suspended. He was also ordered to pay nearly $36,000 in restitution.

Kevin Starlings

Kevin Starlings

"Is he trustworthy? Can he do this job? Should he do this job? What would you say to those people?" we asked.

"I had never been to jail. I was scared. I didn't know the system. So it was more or less. Yes, I’ll cop to whatever gets me free, so that’s what I did," Starlings said.

"Do you think you did anything wrong?” Brown asked Starlings.

“I did, but not based on the charges I was charged with,” he replied. “The fact of the matter is people change and I’ve been in this community making a difference for kids."

Some voters in the third district say knowing his past crime does raise some questions about whether Starlings should oversee any school board financial dealings.

Kevin Starlings

Kevin Starlings

"It would be a concern. I would hope that he learned a lesson and would have reformed and not do that again," Heather Rose said.

CBS 6 Legal expert Todd Stone says the position Starlings’ campaign is in now could also be concerning to his opponents.

"If the opponent wanted to raise some issue, I would expect that the issue would be, what was the status of the candidate at the time of the deadline? There are some legal issues here," Stone said.

As for the Supreme Court ruling, we asked Starlings if it will impact his school board campaign.

"To be honest, I’m not sure whether it will or not, the only thing I can say is that in reality we all made mistakes in the past," Starlings added.

As for the ruling that impacts starlings' restoration of rights, the Virginia Supreme Court ordered the Department of Elections and Secretary of the Commonwealth to revoke the newly restored rights by August 25.

Governor McAuliffe is expected to individually sign orders for 13,000 of the convicted felons before that date.

Starling says he is included in that number.

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers are Working For You.

Contact the CBS 6 Problem Solvers

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.