RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin has appointed new members to the Virginia Parole Board after state Democrats rejected four of his initial picks, including the sheriff of Montgomery County.
With a 21-19 party-line vote last month, the Democratic-controlled state Senate blocked the appointments of Charlottesville attorney Tracy Banks; former Richmond police officer Cheryl Nici-O’Connell; Montgomery County Sheriff Charles ‘Hank’ Partin; and Carmen Williams, legal services project manager at Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, to the Virginia Parole Board.
However, the legislature did approve Chadwick Dotson as the new chairman of the board.
On Wednesday, April 6, Youngkin’s office announced the four new appointees: Samuel Boone Jr., Steven Buck, Michelle Dermyer, and Toby Vick.
“This group of individuals will restore common sense, reform the Parole Board, and stand up for victims’ rights. In prioritizing public safety, we are ensuring that all Virginians feel safe and secure in their communities. We need to put an end to the chaos and reform the Parole Board,” Youngkin said in a statement.
In their defense of the move, Senate Democrats brought up a decision from Virginia House Republicans in February that removed 11 of former Gov. Ralph Northam’s outstanding appointments to executive agencies and state boards.
“I think that the House needs to be taught a lesson,” state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) said on the Senate floor before Youngkin’s first nominees were rejected on March 10.
Youngkin called Democrats’ arguments “a charade” and an effort to derail his pledge to bring changes to a Parole Board fraught with controversy.
“I think it’s shocking and it’s shameful,” Youngkin told WFXR’s Capital Bureau reporter Jackie DeFusco on March 10. “Here we have the Democrats doing everything they can to continue to cover up what has been an absolute violation of law by the Democratic-controlled Parole Board.”
High profile cases made headlines and the state investigator who led the investigations into the board in 2020 was fired after filing a whistleblower lawsuit. That former state employee filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging defamation by senior state officials.
Youngkin, Attorney General Jason Miyares, and other Republicans made the scandal surrounding the parole board a main talking point on the campaign trail, accusing the Northam administration and Democrats of being weak on crime and vowing to replace the board if elected.