The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution early Wednesday morning demanding the resignation of state Del. David LaRock (R-33rd).
The board voted 6-1-1-1 with Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin) in opposition and Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) abstaining. Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) was absent for the vote.
The board’s adoption backs the efforts of two supervisors — Algonkian Supervisor Juli Briskman (D) and Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) — who called for LaRock’s resignation for his “inaccurate and divisive language” and actions surrounding the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Mr. LaRock has demonstrated a clear lack of respect for his constituents, his office and our democracy,” Briskman said.
LaRock attended at least two Stop the Steal rallies: on Nov. 15 in Loudoun County and Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. He told the Times-Mirror last week he does not plan to step down after learning of Briskman and Randall’s resolution.
A number of people questioned if the resolution was in conflict with the board’s rules of order. Ceremonial resolutions and proclamations are typically noncontroversial, county attorney Leo Rogers said. Because the resolution pertained to LaRock’s actions, Rogers and county staff said the resolution would be appropriate if it were a board member initiative arranged by one or more supervisors.
Kershner, who questioned the resolution Tuesday night, is an attourney who is representing LaRock in an upcoming court case between neighbors.
“Based upon both the turnout that we saw tonight and based upon what I’ve heard that those who wished to hurt Mr. LaRock have done nothing but make him a martyr,” Kershner said.
When someone is “martyred” for their speech, “they become a hero,” Kershner said. “So, I think this board has actually accomplished the opposite of what they’re trying to do.”
Letourneau, who abstained from the vote, said after this example he hopes things will improve for the Republican Party and that the group will operate within certain norms, fundamental understandings of democracy and transition of power, and federalism, largely because such actions are alienating the majority of voters.
Before voting to abstain, Letourneau said he did not think it was appropriate for the board to spend so much time on the resolution since it is not county business.
“It’s not the Board of Supervisors’ job or responsibility, nor should it be to pass a resolution calling on a member of our delegation to resign. It is up to us individually to do that. But it is not county business, and it shouldn’t be here tonight,” Letourneau said.
Over the past several days, a growing list of local leaders and groups have publicly denounced LaRock’s words and actions. The groups contend LaRock is continuing to spread misinformation about the 2020 presidential election when former Vice President Joe Biden (D) defeated President Donald Trump (R).
On Tuesday, the NAACP Loudoun Branch, joined by branch members in Winchester, renewed their call for LaRock to resign. LaRock’s district lies in parts of Frederick, Clarke and Loudoun counties, including some of the outlying edges of Leesburg.
In an earlier statement, Michelle Thomas, president of the NAACP Loudoun Branch, said LaRock’s social media timeline is filled with conspiracies theories, far right-wing rhetoric and misinformation. She called on the rest of the Loudoun County delegation in Richmond to condemn LaRock.
Thomas also called on leadership in the General Assembly to suspend LaRock’s rights and privileges immediately to allow for an investigation into his acts and alleged incitement of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Unity cannot happen, reconciliation cannot happen without accountability,” Thomas said.
LaRock said in an earlier statement that Briskman and Randall are wasting their time and taxpayer resources to attack him after nearly 18,000 voters voted him into office. He also retracted an earlier statement after a growing group of Loudouners became upset with LaRock’s comments, specifically his reference to the “colored community.”
The delegate was later stripped of a committee duty in the House of Delegates for sending a letter to Vice President Mike Pence (R) to nullify Virginia’s presidential election results. LaRock was stripped of his duty on the House transportation committee.
More than 30 people signed up to speak at Tuesday’s meeting, mostly against the resolution backed by Briskman and Randall.
Some said the board’s action is an attack on free speech and condemned the resolution as a way to remove political opponents.
“Rather than trying to further divide us by linking extremists on either end of the spectrum to those that protest normally and exercise their First Amendment rights,” Geary Higgins, president of the 10th Congressional District Republican Committee, suggested “we get back to the work of the county and doing the things that are of interest to the county and not waste public funds and time on issues like this.”
Randall said LaRock telling people their vote didn’t count is dangerous.
“It’s one thing to have free speech, but free speech doesn’t mean you can say anything, anytime,” Randall said. “You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, you can’t threaten people and you can’t repeat lies, and conspiracy theories that lead to an insurrection, especially when you’re an elected official.”