“Change is difficult” – Gretchen Carlson responds to petition calling for her resignation, defends “Miss America 2.0”

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ABC/Paula Lobo(NEW YORK) -- Representatives of the Miss America Organization are calling for the resignations of its board members, including chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and Regina Hopper, the president and CEO.

The divide within the leadership comes just one month after Carlson, the first former Miss America to lead the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, announced sweeping changes to the 97-year-old contest, including the end of the organization's long-standing swimsuit competition.

"Change is difficult," Carlson told Good Morning America. "When I took on this role of leading this organization six months ago, we had a lot of work to do. And swimsuit has been a part of Miss America since it started in 1921 and...it is tradition. But at the same time, this board unanimously decided that we needed to move this program forward..."

Representatives from 22 state pageants signed the petition calling for Carlson and the new Miss America board to resign, The Press of Atlantic City reported Saturday. The petition states that the representatives have "no confidence" in Miss America's leadership.

"In our opinion their leadership has demonstrated that 'Miss America 2.0' is simply a new title for the same old tactics of obfuscation and fear-based governance," the petition reads.

Meanwhile, 30 former Miss America titleholders said they "fully support" Carlson and the current leadership "who are and have been working tirelessly to move our program forward," in a letter to the newspaper.

On June 5, Carlson told GMA, "We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition."

In place of the swimsuit portion of the competition, Miss America contestants will now take part in a live interactive session with the judges, the organization said.

The 2019 Miss America Competition airs live on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 9 p.m. EST.

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