Virginia Beach Democratic Chair Removed; Kicked out of Committee

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By William Moncure

(William is an opinion writer, that does not represent the views of R2D staff)

The Steering Committee of the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee voted on Wednesday night to remove their Chair, Carla Hesseltine, from her position and kick her out of the committee following a number of recent scandals. The counts against her were as follows:

Screenshot from the Grievance Committee statement based on a Grievance petition

The final vote was 4–2 to remove Carla. This is a welcome, and even surprising outcome since several Steering Committee members who were critical of Carla had resigned and were therefore not able to vote on removing her. Here is a part of the official letter sent to her regarding her removal:

There were many scandals that led to this vote. In particular, Carla’s repeated altering of the sample ballot approval process outraged many members. The process was unclear, undemocratic, and inconsistent. This situation only became worse as she moved to add several well-known Republicans to the sample ballot after they made donations to the committee. She then pushed for a Democratic candidate she personally disliked to be removed from the ballot.

There has also been an underlying racial angle to many of the problems afflicting the committee. Carla has done various things that have alienated many black members of the committee, starting with her failure to appoint any people of color to the Steering committee after she became Chair. Later, once a petition was started because of how she was derailing the ballot guide process, she described two of her black critics as “threatening”, and contacted one of their employers on Twitter to try to get them fired. Most recently she described three black members of the committee as “political terrorists”. None of them had actually done anything violent.

Carla, known for her poor behavior on social media, has not responded well to her removal.

This subtweet is aimed at a member of the Steering Committee who cast the swing vote against Carla, much to Carla’s surprise. Carla also contacted that member via text. In those texts she continued to berate the Steering member and said she wouldn’t talk to her ever again.

Is it any wonder that one of the counts against Carla was for failing to “engender harmonious relationships”? How is she supposed to fulfill the role of Chair when she says that she is never going to speak again to a member of her own Steering Committee?

Here is part of the official statement that will soon be sent to VBDC membership regarding her removal:

A much more detailed description of the issues that have arisen during Carla’s tenure can be found here.

Carla has said that her plan is to appeal to the 2nd Congressional District Democratic Committee. Removing Carla as chair is crucial for the 2019 election season and beyond. Virginia Beach is home to not only the swing 2nd Congressional District, but also five House of Delegates seats that Democrats have a chance to pick up, and several State Senate seats. (Carla is actually planning to run for one of the State Senate seats…). Democrats only need to pick up one Delegate and one Senate seat in 2019 to have a Democratic majority in the General Assembly. These elections have huge ramifications state wide.

Please keep an eye out in the near future for a more in-depth look at the Steering Committee’s statement.

I ask that all concerned Democrats please take a moment to contact the 2nd CD Committee and let them (politely) know that you want them to uphold Carla’s removal.

Contact info for 2nd CD and DPVA Leadership can be found below:

Sandra Brandt, Chair of the 2nd CD Committee:

Linwood Fisher, Vice Chair of the 2nd CD Committee:

DPVA members:

Hon. Susan Swecker,
Chairwoman, Democratic Party of Virginia

Gaylene Kanoyton,
1st Vice Chair, Organization

Marc K. Broklawski,
DNC ; 2nd Vice Chair of Rules

Chris Bolling, 
Executive Director of the DPVA.

Shyam Raman,
Political Director of the DPVA

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