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State Sen. Locke responds to Youngkin removing her from Southern Regional Education Board

State Senator Mamie Locke, who represents parts of Hampton Roads in the 2nd District, served on the board for 10 years.

NORFOLK, Va. — A recent decision by Gov. Glenn Youngkin caught State Sen. Mamie Locke (D-2nd) by surprise. 

The long-time legislator said she received an email from an account that said "No Reply," stating she will no longer serve on the Legislative Advisory Council for the Southern Regional Education Board. Locke said she contacted the Secretary of the Commonwealth who then confirmed to Locke the decision.

"I mean, this just came out of the blue with absolutely no warning that I was going to be removed from it," said Locke. "Let me be clear, the governor has every right to make appointments to this board and I am grateful that Gov. [Terry] McAuliffe and Gov. [Ralph] Northam sought to put me on it because of my educational background."

The board, labeled as a nonpartisan nonprofit, is made up of state leaders from 16 states and four gubernatorial appointees. It works with states to improve public education by analyzing data, helping educators strengthen professional development, and helping educators share resources to accomplish certain goals. 

13News Now asked Gov. Youngkin's spokesperson why the governor chose to remove Locke from the board. The spokeswoman responded, saying:

"Senator Locke previously served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Southern Regional Education Board for Democratic Governors Northam and McAuliffe. 

Similar to all previous administrations, this administration will exercise its ability to appoint qualified and dedicated legislators to this board. 

Senator Locke may continue to serve on this board should she be appointed in her capacity as a legislative appointment."

Locke, a former Dean at Hampton University with 40 years of higher education experience, said she felt surprised by the statement from Gov. Youngkin's Administration. 

"I served 40 years in higher education. I spent 20 years in the legislature and 10 years on this board, so I guess that nixes being qualified and dedicated," Locke said.

Leslie Caughell teaches political science at Virginia Wesleyan University.

She said while Youngkin didn't break any rules, the decision to remove Locke makes a statement about the future of the board.

"This is kind of the like to the victor goes the spoils," said Caughell. "Now, there will be additional scrutiny to removing someone who's been in this position for about a decade now, right? But also, who is he going to put in and what does that person's background and opinions look like?" 

Gov. Youngkin's spokeswoman did not say if the governor had anyone in mind as to who should fill Locke's seat. However, Caughell said the governor will likely choose someone more aligned with his views on education.  

"You're going to see, with the removal of this democratic legislator, look more like the conservative far right on issues with regard to education and their positions on these issues are certainly going to shift," Caughell explained.

State Sen. Locke said she still plans to sit in on meetings and continue her service to the board, even if she doesn't have the official title. 

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