Michigan woman drops bid for city council after saying she wanted to keep her city white

A city council candidate who drew criticism after saying she wanted to keep her town in Michigan a “white community as much as possible” has dropped out of the race, the City of Marysville said Monday.

Jean Cramer, 67, submitted a written notification to the city saying she wanted to remove her name from the November ballot and withdraw from the election, according to a Facebook post from the City of Marysville. However, Cramer’s name will stay on the ballot because the official withdrawal date, mandated by the State Elections Bureau, was April 26, the post said.

Cramer could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The city’s mayor, Dan Damman, said he was thankful Cramer withdrew from the race.

“I had publicly asked her to withdraw the day after she made the initial statement, and public sentiment from our residents was swift and bold as they rejected her ideology,” Damman said in an email to CNN. “It is my sincere hope that she withdrew because she recognized that her belief system and ideology have no place in public service; not in Marysville, not anywhere.”

Cramer’s racist remarks came at a forum last week when she responded to a question about bringing more diversity to Marysville, which is 95% white.

Other candidates gasped at her words, as heard in a recording posted on the website of radio station WPHM.

Asked by the moderator if the community’s diversity needed to be addressed, perhaps by attracting foreign-born citizens, Cramer said: “My suggestion, recommendation: Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible.”

She continued: “Seriously, in other words no foreign-born, no foreign people because of what, in our past, we’ve experienced it’s better to have … simply American-born. Put it that way and no foreigners. No.”

Cramer moved to Marysville in 2012, property records show. Marysville is on the border with Canada, about 50 miles northeast of Detroit.

She doubled down when the Port Huron Times Herald asked her to respond to criticism from the town’s mayor pro tem, Kathy Hayman, who is from a racially diverse family.

“As long as, how can I put this? What Kathy Hayman doesn’t know is that her family is in the wrong,” she said. “(A) husband and wife need to be the same race. Same thing with kids. That’s how it’s been from the beginning of, how can I say, when God created the heaven and the earth. He created Adam and Eve at the same time. But as far as me being against blacks, no I’m not,” Cramer is reported as saying.

Other City Council candidates responded with shock during the forum on Thursday evening. They rejected Cramer’s views and suggested all people should be welcome.

Hayman took the comments personally.

“I don’t even know that I can talk yet, I’m so upset and shocked,” she said at the forum.

Hayman explained her father “was a hundred percent Syrian” and owned a grocery store in town. She felt Cramer’s remark was a slight against her family.

“Basically, what you’ve said is that my father and his family had no business to be in this community,” she said to Cramer.

“My son-in-law is a black man and I have biracial grandchildren,” Hayman continued. “And I take this very personally what you’ve said, and I know that there’s nothing I can say that’s going to change your mind. … We just need to have more kindness — that’s it.”

WPHM reported that Hayman’s father was a longtime elected official and the forum was in a room named for him.

“Just checking the calendar here and making sure it’s still 2019,” candidate Mike Deising said. “Yeah, I thought we covered civil rights about 50 years ago.”

Exasperated, he said when it was his turn to answer, “I’ve got nothing, sorry.”

Wayne Pyden, who is running unopposed for mayor and is a former councilman, appeared surprised by the sentiment expressed by Cramer.

“I don’t see how anybody has stopped diversity here in town that I am aware of. I don’t know off the top of my head what type of initiatives the city could take to get more diversity,” Pyden said at the meeting. “But in my own heart and my own mind and people around me, people here at the table, everybody’s welcome to Marysville. I don’t care if you’re purple, whatever … you’re welcome to our community.”

By Mallory Simon, CNN

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