The West Chester Twp. board of trustees accepted an apology from Board of Zoning Appeals member Evan Thomas this week but said his political posts on social media do not warrant his removal from public service.
Township resident Patrick Barnett asked the trustees to oust Thomas from the voluntary board because he represents the township and allegedly posted inappropriate messages about violent acts on social media.
The Journal-News obtained posts allegedly made by Thomas prior to the riots at the U.S. Capitol that say the election was stolen. One says that “he should be tried and hung for treason,” in reference to Georgia’s secretary of state. There is also a picture of a hat that reads “Make hanging traitors great again.”
Thomas told the Journal-News he didn’t specifically remember posting the messages and may have been reposting thoughts of others.
He emailed an apology to the trustees Feb. 5 saying he was not condoning violence “but only the need for justice by a court of law.” He admitted Facebook issued him a warning about his posts and he has voluntarily left that platform.
"We saw acts of violence at the capitol and I was saddened by these events like most Americans,” Thomas wrote. “I do not condone those acts as well. I can understand some of my comments were not needed.”
Trustee Board President Lee Wong read a statement Tuesday, acknowledging the apology and saying the township has started training for volunteer board members on how certain public comments can “reflect negatively” on the township.
“The board of trustees does not condone the posts made and shared by Mr. Thomas on social media. They were not directly related to his work on the Board of Zoning Appeals and do not rise to the level for which dismissal could be legally defended,” Wong read from the statement.
“Mr. Thomas acknowledges the error in sharing these types of messages and that such postings may place the township in an unfavorable light due to his position on the township board. He has been a competent and thoughtful member of BZA."