You have permission to edit this article.

Haymarket town councilman apologizes for ‘racially offensive’ email

  • Updated
  • 3
P_Haymarket_Day_56.JPG flags Haymarket flag

Town of Haymarket banner

A Haymarket town councilmember made a public apology Thursday after sending an email to fellow town councilmembers and town staff in which he referred to Gov. Ralph Northam by Northam’s racially offensive college nickname.

Haymarket Town Councilman Bob Weir acknowledged during Thursday’s town council meeting that he had used Northam’s alleged college nickname “Coonman” to refer to Northam in an email regarding Prince William County’s real property tax rate and declining commercial property values in the area. 

In the email, Weir wrote that the county’s tax rate would increase the average tax bill for local homeowners, and that declining commercial property values would not offset the tax rate. Weir ended the email: “Thanks Covid and Gov. Coonman for depressing the commercial sector.”

Weir then privately apologized to councilmembers earlier this week before making a public apology Thursday evening. 

“My intent was to express displeasure with the governor. However, I acknowledge that my intent is not what matters here and that the impact of my using that nickname was a very racially offensive message that reflects poorly on me and on the council,” Weir said.

Northam’s alleged college nickname, a Jim Crow-era racial slur, was discovered in 2019 after news reporters unearthed Northam’s 1981 Virginia Military Institute yearbook. Photos were also discovered on Northam's page in his 1984 medical school yearbook showing two people, one in a Ku Klux Klan robe and the other in blackface. Northam denied he was either person in the picture. 

Haymarket Mayor Ken Luersen urged Weir to apologize publicly because, he said, “the matter has now become a matter of public concern.”

“While I believe that the councilmember did not mean to be racially offensive. The term was in fact racially offensive. As such, it has had a detrimental effect on the town council’s standing in the community and cannot be tolerated,” Luersen said. 

Haymarket Town Councilman Steve Shannon called on Weir to resign over his use of the nickname in the email. 

“I do not believe it was racist in nature. However, I am going on record to say I believe that with the press that this could get, I would personally recommend Mr. Weir’s resignation for the betterment of the town,” Shannon said. 

Weir said in a phone call on Friday that he had no plans to resign from council.

Reach Daniel Berti at

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

2020 was a year marked by hardships and challenges, but the Prince William community has proven resilient. The Prince William Times is honored to serve as your community companion. To say thank you for your continued support, we’d like to offer all our subscribers -- new or returning --


We understand the importance of working to keep our community strong and connected. As we move forward together into 2021, it will take commitment, communication, creativity, and a strong connection with those who are most affected by the stories we cover.

We are dedicated to providing the reliable, local journalism you have come to expect. We are committed to serving you with renewed energy and growing resources. Let the Prince William Times be your community companion throughout 2021, and for many years to come.


Recommended for you

Recommended for you

(3) comments


Why do you libturds have so much trouble with the truth? That was his nickname. Repeating it isn't racist. People need to stop looking for racism everywhere they go. It sound silly (Dr Suess???) and it is getting worse. Get over it Shannon!!!


There is nothing for HIM to apologize for! That was the name the governor HIMSELF approved. The democrats knew they were electing a racist with Northam. The real reason anyone is upset is that they hate to be reminded that democrats, in fact, support racists.


dont leave Steve Shannon has no idea what hes talking about im used to calling him Gov. Blackface ive never heard of his nickname ill start using that one

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Page Title

The future of Prince William Times now depends on community support. Your donation will help us continue to improve our journalism through in-depth local news coverage and expanded reader engagement.

Keeping you connected to the Community. Find or Submit your local event here..

Sign Up For Newsletters