Incoming Senate President Karen Fann on Wednesday joined the chorus demanding the resignation of her seatmate, Rep. David Stringer, over racist comments that recently came to light.
Stringer has also been criticized for columns he wrote for a local news outlet he co-owns that denigrate immigrants and espouse white nationalist ideas.
As president-elect of the Arizona Senate, Fann, R-Prescott, said she’d been reluctant to comment on Stringer’s remarks. But as the senator from Legislative District 1, which encompasses most of Yavapai County, she said she felt compelled to denounce her seatmate’s comments, which she said were “inappropriate and highly offensive.”
“Representative David Stringer’s comments create a racial and community divide that is counterproductive to the needs of the state. We must respect and celebrate our rich cultures and never abandon the principles of equality that so many have fought to preserve,” Fann said in a written statement. “Mr. Stringer has given doubt among his legislative peers regarding his judgment and ability to represent his district.”
On Monday, Fann declined to say whether Stringer should step down, telling the Arizona Mirror that he’s member of the House of Representatives, not the Senate, and that it would be inappropriate for her comment as incoming Senate president. She also said she was waiting to see what the House and the Arizona and Yavapai County Republican parties did.
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk called for Stringer’s resignation on Friday, and the Prescott City Council on Tuesday voted in favor of a resolution seeking his resignation. The chairman of the Yavapai County Republican Party has also asked for Stringer’s resignation.
On Wednesday, Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, a popular figure among conservatives statewide, added his voice to those urging Stringer to step down.
Incoming House Speaker Rusty Bowers hasn’t sought Stringer’s resignation. But he stripped Stringer of his chairmanship of the House Recidivism and Sentencing Reform Committee, which he subsequently dissolved, and removed him from the House Education Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, of which he was vice chairman. Stringer still serves on the House Government Committee, which is now his only committee assignment.
Channel 3 political editor Dennis Welch wrote on Twitter that Bowers said he won’t take any further action against Stringer, but that he won’t try to stop other House members if they seek to officially censure him.
The recent controversy erupted after the Phoenix New Times revealed audio recordings in which Stringer told Arizona State University students that African-Americans and other non-whites “don’t blend in” and that non-English speakers are a “burden” on public schools. Stringer previously faced calls for his resignation over the summer after a video of a speech became public in which he said immigration is an “existential threat” to the United States and that there “aren’t enough white kids to go around” in Arizona’s public schools.