Thursday, July 22, 2021

Councilwoman criticizes campaign conduct

A complaint regarding a Facebook post prompted members of the Romulus City Council to call for more civility in political campaigns.

Byron Butler, a 59-year resident of the community, spoke to the council members during the public comment portion of the regular meeting July 12. Butler explained that he was “very upset” regarding a Facebook post which he characterized as an attack on himself and his wife. He said that the post was on a site managed by Mayor LeRoy Burcroff's wife and that the mayor had also made a comment on the post which he found offensive to himself and to his wife.

“My wife and I have never posted anything about the Burcroffs, negative or otherwise,” he said. “Who I support or vote for is my business.” He said that he could not understand how anyone could attack his wife whom he described as “the most positive, kindhearted person who likes everyone.” 

Butler's comments brought a swift response from Councilwoman Virginia Williams who said that such conduct during an election should not be allowed and that law enforcement should offer more help to those victimized during election campaigns. She said during her campaign last November she had been targeted by vandalism at her home.

“I have not spoken about this before,” she said. “During the campaign, black paint was poured over the back of my home. There was $50,000 in damage,” she said. “No resident, no employee, no business should have to suffer what was done to me. This is a democracy. I don't want to hear of anyone suffering what I suffered,” she said. “This was shameful, hateful.”

Williams said she received no help from the city police department with her complaints of the damage done to her home, her damaged patio furniture and eggs thrown at her home. She cautioned Burcroff that as the “chief law enforcement officer of the city” it was his responsibility to take action now to protect people. “Mayor, if you're not going to do anything, someone else will have to step in,” she said, suggesting she would notify the state police if others are victimized.

“I would like you to step in now.  I want something done now,” Williams said.

Councilwoman Eva Webb said that when she campaigned for office, her signs were burned and pulled up and destroyed.

“For this to happen to the Butlers of all people,” she said. “Their family are pillars of the community. They don't bother anyone,” she said.

Councilwoman Tina Talley apologized to Butler on behalf of the city and suggested that she, Burcroff and Butler meet after the meeting to discuss the situation and try to “come together and work it out.”

Burcroff agreed and said that the post in question had been taken down. He suggested that Butler talk to him personally about the issue.

“I'd like to have a person to person conversation. I do apologize if we did something wrong,” he said. “We all know that Facebook is a dangerous tool. What's on Facebook isn't always true. I am not here to offend anyone. On behalf of my family, I am sorry,” he told Butler and the council members.

Burcroff opted not to seek re-election this year.