VA Democrats reject GOP Gov. Youngkin’s nominations for parole board, vision impaired board

A Democrat-controlled committee in the Virginia Senate voted Tuesday against approving Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s pick to lead the state’s parole board, Patricia West.

Without offering an explanation, the Privileges and Elections Committee voted to remove West’s name from a resolution containing a long list of appointees requiring General Assembly approval, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and TV station WRIC reported.

The resolution now moves to the full Senate, where Democrats have a narrow majority, and an attempt could be made to restore West to the list of appointees.

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Youngkin announced West’s appointment to the job in September, after tapping former parole board chair Chadwick Dotson to become director of the Virginia Department of Corrections. West, who had previously served as a judge on the State Corporation Commission, also held high-level jobs in GOP Gov. George Allen’s administration and worked under former Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

When West was elected to the State Corporation Commission in 2019, Democrats raised concerns about some of her rhetoric, including social media posts, according to news accounts from the time.

The Virginia Capitol building

The Virginia Capitol is seen in Richmond, VA, on March 4, 2010. A Virginia Senate committee voted not to approve Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s choices of Patricia West to lead the state’s parole board or Garren Shipley to serve on the Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired on Jan. 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

The Associated Press left a phone message seeking comment from West at the office of the parole board, which makes decisions about whether to grant, deny or revoke parole to inmates. Youngkin’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The same committee also voted to reject Youngkin’s appointment of Garren Shipley, communications director for House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, to serve on the Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired. The panel cited “caucus concerns,” the Times-Dispatch reported.

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Shipley sought out a vacancy on the board because of his family’s experience helping his younger brother navigate a rare eye disorder that left him functionally blind at birth, he said in an interview.

Shipley recalled his parents struggling to find resources for his brother, who is now an attorney in Tennessee, and said the board exists in part to aid Virginia families who are similarly situated.

“I just wanted to help, and it seemed like a place where I could do it,” he said.

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