The Airway Heights City Council has asked Mayor Patrick Rushing to resign after he allegedly posted racist comments to his personal Facebook page. However, Rushing is refusing to resign, claiming that he didn’t realize his comments were racist.
“I made a mistake. I owned up to my mistake,” Rushing said. “If I do resign that’s admitting I’m a racist and I’m not.”
The comments compared President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to monkeys.
“My entire life race has never been an issue,” Rushing said.
Deputy City Manager and Police Chief Lee Bennett said that’s not enough. He thinks that as an elected official Rushing needs to hold himself to a higher standard. Additionally, Bennett doesn’t think it matters whether or not Rushing knew that the comments were racist.
“I can tell you that in the matter of public opinion they were racist (comments). When you become a public figure I’m no longer Lee Bennett citizen,” he said. “I’m Police Chief Bennett.”
Deputy Mayor Kevin Richey became aware of the posts on Friday, and then told City Manager Albert Tripp.
“He said he is not going to resign, and that this was playful banter between him and some friends,” Bennett said.
According to minutes from the council meeting Rushing said the remarks were “completely out of character” and that he would work to “get past this.”
The city council asked the city attorney Stan Schwartz to draft a resolution expressing the council’s concerns and dissatisfaction with Mayor Rushing. The resolution may include sanctions. The council approved the motion 5-1. One council member was absent.
“They asked him to resign. He refused. He’s an elected official so our hands are tied,” Bennett said.