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Fairmont Councilman retracts use of ‘hoe’ from Harris statement

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 10:56 AM EDT
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FAIRMONT, W.Va (WDTV) - UPDATE 08/14/2020

Fairmont Councilman Barry Bledsoe is retracting the use of ‘hoe’ from a social media post about Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he chose Harris as his running mate.

Bledsoe took to Facebook saying, “It says a lot that Bidens first priority was the sex and race of his VP pick, and not their ability to do the job.”

He added that he guessed that why he “picked a (ho).”

On Friday, Bledsoe posted the following:

"A good friend called me a few minutes ago, and pointed out that my use of the word "hoe" (I am keeping the misspelling. It was actually Autocorrect that changed the spelling, and I didn't notice it. But the laughable comments about it make it worth keeping.), really isn't in line with Christian principles.

“So, I am retracting my use of the word “hoe” and I am apologizing for using it in such a manner. However, to be clear I am NOT retracting the first statement, which said that it is wrong to make the first priority in hiring, a person’s sex or race. This is not a racist statement. It is not racist to tell the truth.

“But, my future comments about Harris will be restricted to her terrible stand on many issues that are of critical importance to the safety, security and future of the American people.”

ORIGINAL STORY

A Fairmont councilman is facing criticism on social media after publishing a Facebook post about Kamala Harris.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he chose Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate.

Barry Bledsoe took to Facebook saying, “It says a lot that Bidens first priority was the sex and race of his VP pick, and not their ability to do the job.”

He added that he guessed that why he “picked a (ho).”

In a separate post, Bledsoe suggests he was called a “racist and bigot” for the post, but doubled-down on attacks against Sen. Harris on Thursday, calling critics of his initial post “word police.”

5 News reached out to Bledsoe, he said he had no comment about those posts.

This controversy comes less than two months after fellow councilman David Kennedy was censured by the city council for Facebook posts.

“I hate to start the dialogue again. I think we are wasting - we are wasting good time with that. We have more important things to do,” said Councilman Tom Mainella.

Mainella says he has not spoken to other council members about the posts, but says this will likely come up in a future council meeting.

“I have been getting calls from the Black community, the White community. I just apologize to them on behalf of city council and say ‘I don’t know what to tell you,‘” said Mainella.

The Fairmont Human Rights Commission released following statement:

“We, the members of the Fairmont Human Rights Commission, wish to officially denounce the recent social media comments made by Councilman Barry Bledsoe.

“His comments are a reminder that we do not live in a post racial world, or in a world where gender equality is fully realized. His statement is a remnant of America’s darkest hours when women were generally viewed as inferior to men and white people as superior to black regardless of their education or service to their country.

“The disparaging public comments by City Councilman Bledsoe reveal his racist and misogynist belief.

“We recognize and support an individual’s right to support political candidates of their personal choosing. We also appreciate an individual’s right to criticize and refuse support, however it is never appropriate to resort to insults or derogatory labels to attack others. We cannot allow divisive individuals, whether they be elected officials or not, derail our efforts for a peaceful, just, and equitable Fairmont.

“The Human Rights Commission condemns his behavior and recommends he be censured by the City Council and the whole of the City of Fairmont.”

Others are calling for Bledsoe to publicly apologize for the comments.

“I guess I am just in disbelief that someone, especially a councilman, should be held at a little higher -- I just don’t even know what to say,” said Belinda Biafore, chairwoman of the West Virginia Democratic Party.

She says she has been friends with Bledsoe for years and was caught off-guard by the comments.

“When you are an elected official you are held at a higher standard. So, you have to think before you speak,” said Biafore.

5 News also reached out to the Marion County Republican Executive Committee, but leaders chose not to comment on Bledsoe’s posts.

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