The mayor of a small southeastern Ohio community resigned Saturday over accusations that she repeatedly called a gay police officer queer in front of his colleagues and created a hostile work environment, at one point saying, “I don’t like a queer working for the village.”
Mary McAngus, the 78-year-old mayor of the Village of Pomeroy, submitted a letter of resignation as mayor of the town of 2,000 along the Ohio River just across from West Virginia, said Jackie Welker, the village council president and now-acting mayor.
“It just seems so absurd, even in our town in Appalachia, that this could still happen,” Welker told The Associated Press. “Hopefully this resignation will start the healing.”
McAngus did not immediately return a call to her home for comment Saturday.
Her resignation as mayor comes on the heels of police Chief Mark Proffitt’s warning to the council this week that McAngus’ alleged comments could open the village to a lawsuit.
He said McAngus made the first remark a few weeks after 21-year-old Officer Kyle Calendine was hired, telling Proffitt that she had heard the officer was openly gay.
“I don’t like a queer working for the Village,” she said, according to a six-page statement Proffitt sent to village council this month. “I might be old-fashioned but I don’t like it.”
On Jan. 31, McAngus used the word several times while meeting with the chief and another officer, the statement said. The officer “advised he was caught off guard and he couldn’t believe she was talking so bad about a village officer.”
Proffitt believed the mayor didn’t want Calendine hired as a full-time officer because he is gay, the statement said.
Proffitt said in an interview with the AP on Friday that he supports gay rights and was upset about the hostile work environment the situation has created.
“Gay people have rights like everyone else,” said Proffitt, police chief since 2000, who said he has an openly gay niece and nephew.
The mayor also complained about Calendine’s partner coming to the police department and wanted him kicked out, according to the statement.
Proffitt said family members frequently visit all employees at the department.
Calendine said Saturday that he is considering a lawsuit because of how difficult the situation became and to teach McAngus a lesson.
“For someone in a place of power to say something like that, that’s shocking,” he said. “She needs to know that she done wrong and in a way, she needs to be punished for what she’s done because it was completely out of line. … My rights were violated.”
“People don’t want to be pulled aside and asked, ‘Are you gay?’ and be judged for that,” said Calendine, who said he’s the first openly gay man a lot of people in his area have met. “I want to go to work, do my job and go home. That’s all I’m here to do.”
Calendine has worked for the Athens County Sheriff’s Office and the Jackson and Glouster police departments. He was hired in Pomeroy in September.
McAngus is a former bank teller and had served on Pomeroy’s council for at least one term before she was sworn in as mayor just over a year ago.
Becker said Saturday that he hoped McAngus’ resignation puts the whole situation behind the community.
He rejected the idea that McAngus might just be old-fashioned.
“I just don’t accept that as a defense,” he said. “I’m hoping the mayor’s resignation will start putting out fires for us, but the excuse of being old-fashioned, I just don’t know. It just seems so crazy to me, to be honest. It’s just ludicrous.”
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