Harper Woods Mayor Resigns Over 'White Supremacists' Comment

WWJ News
July 31, 2020 - 5:30 pm
city hall

(WWJ) The longtime Mayor of Harper Woods has resigned amid growing controversy over a comment he made at a recent meeting. 

The Detroit suburb announced Friday that Mayor Kenneth Poynter is stepping down after many called for his removal after he said to department and other city leaders on July 21: "I understand why white people would become white supremacists.”

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Poynter addressed resignation letter to Acting City Manager John Szymanski, who was among those calling for him to step down. 

"I have been a member of the Harper Woods community for a lifetime. During that time, I had been elected to the school board for nearly 15 years and have been your mayor since 1997," Poynter wrote. "I love this city, its employees, and the many citizens I have met, so it is with regret that I resign my position as mayor and say 'farewell'."

Szymanski said in a news released that he hoped Poynter's resignation would "allow the city to move forward and work on maintaining and improving the quality of life for those who live and visit the City of Harper Woods.”

The Harper Woods City Council is expected to meet in special session to appoint current Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Costantino as Mayor.  

The following statement was issued by Harper Woods City Attorney John J. Gillooly, who was authorized to speak on behalf of the city and its administration on the matter.

"The City of Harper Woods has just received the resignation of  its long time Mayor Kenneth Poynter. Over the course of more than two decades, former Mayor  Poynter has provided the residents of the City of Harper Woods with effective and efficient leadership. His love for the city is unquestioned. His organization of and participation in city events has gone well above the call of duty.

"Unfortunately, recent comments made by former Mayor Poynter did not and do not reflect the values and beliefs of city administration, business leaders and residents of the City of Harper Woods. 

"This change of leadership will allow the City of Harper Woods to maintain and enhance fundamental civil liberties and rights owed to each and every person who comes within the boundaries of the city of Harper Woods whether it be to live, work or play. "

Poynter's term was set to expire in November 2021.