HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Hampton Electoral Board Chair David Dietrich has resigned from his position following racist comments posted on Facebook, officials tell 10 On Your Side.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin demanded Dietrich’s resignation in a tweet Saturday afternoon. That is less than a day after 10 On Your Side reported about the Hampton GOP calling upon the appointing authority for all electoral board members to remove Dietrich.
“As governor, I serve all Virginians. I won’t accept racism in our Commonwealth or our party,” said Youngkin.
A spokesperson from the governor’s office later confirmed that Dietrich had agreed to resign following the demand from Youngkin.
However, after the governor posted a tweet about the resignation, 10 On Your Side asked the governor’s office and the chairman of the Hampton Republican party, the person who recommended Dietrich for the position, if they had received anything in writing from Dietrich stating that he is resigning.
“Ideally he [Dietrich] would send in his resignation to the Circuit Court since they appointed him,” said Hampton GOP Chairman Phil Siff.
Siff says he’s relieved Dietrich resigned.
“It’s not acceptable behavior for someone who’s going to be in that type of position. So, I’m glad the governor did it and I wish Mr. Dietrich had made the decision earlier,” Siff stated.
The racist Facebook post believed to be posted by Dietrich came to light last week.
“In the post, Mr. Dietrich uses abhorrent and unacceptable racist language that has no place in our Party or our Commonwealth,” stated a news release from the Republican Party of Hampton. The organization’s Facebook Page includes a screenshot of a Facebook post attributed to Dietrich.
“He’s responsible for what he wrote; I am responsible for who I recommend to the court. I can’t speak for what he thinks or what he believes but I can rectify the wrong that I made in having him appointed there,” said Siff.
On Friday, Siff said they were asking the court to use their legal authority to remove him. The chief judge of the Hampton Circuit Court has the appointing authority for all electoral board members.
10 On Your Side contacted the Hampton Circuit Court, and a clerk for the Chief Judge Michael Gaten said Judge Gaten would have no comment.
On Monday, Gaten issued an order removing Dietrich from the board.
Dietrich has not responded to two emails sent by WAVY-TV.
His name has been removed from the Electoral Board website.
Hampton’s GOP Chair told 10 On Your Side Dietrich has also been removed from the Hampton GOP and his membership fee has been refunded. Siff added that his organization is in the process of identifying individuals who could replace Dietrich on the board after being removed by the chief Hampton judge. They have a 30-day deadline.
Fellow Electoral Board member, Rebecca Winn, issued a statement saying: “Given the history of race-based voter suppression in eastern Virginia, I think it’s appropriate for Dietrich to resign. It is our duty to protect all voters and the people of Hampton should feel comfortable knowing their rights will be protected.”
Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus condemned Dietrich’s comments in an online release stating his post has “far-reaching consequences” beyond Hampton Roads.
Republican 91st District Delegate A.C. Cordoza also respond to 10 On Your Side. In a statement he said:
“Racial discrimination and bigotry have no place in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Dietrich should resign.”
On Monday, the Hampton NAACP also released a statement on Dietrich’s resignation.
Democracy–that is, power held by and for the people–is fundamental to who we are as Americans. There is a long and well known history of efforts to target and suppress the participation of Black voters. Our democracy at the ballot box should never be compromised by a long time known racist that promotes public lynchings. In this climate of fake news, the topic of deception is to usurp the integrity of elections by stating irregularities in the voting process.
As the oldest civil rights organization in America, the NAACP will continue in our daring mission to ensure the full participation of Black voters in our democracy. Hampton Circuit Court has done the right thing by entering its Order to remove David Dietrich from his role in the oversight of our local elections. But, let the fact that he ever achieved such a position serve as a warning to all Virginians and to those across this country… white supremacy and nationalism is a persistent threat. Be alert. Be vigilant. Be unwavering.Gaylene Kanoyton, president Hampton NAACP