Fairmont Councilman condemned for comments about Delegate Danielle Walker

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 6:37 PM EDT
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FAIRMONT, W.Va (WDTV) - A Fairmont Councilman is once again in hot water for comments he made against Monongalia County Delegate Danielle Walker.

Barry Bledsoe’s now-deleted comment was attached to a Dominion Post story about the approval of a crosswalk to be painted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Bledsoe’s comment read, “If you don’t get rid of that satanic Danielle Walker, you might as well give up!”

Before the comment was deleted, screenshots were shared on social media, sparking backlash from Marion County delegates condemning Bledsoe’s statements. The delegates called the comments out of line and called for an apology.

“We stand with our colleague Delegate Danielle Walker who was recently attacked on social media by Fairmont City Councilman Barry Bledsoe. Councilman Bledsoe has been using his social media platform to make racist, discriminatory remarks. He was totally out of line, and his remarks are unacceptable. Councilman Bledsoe was voted into office to serve ALL of the residents in his district, not just the ones who look and vote like him. Delegate Walker deserves an apology for his remarks. We proudly stand with our colleague- and will stand with her at tomorrow’s city council meeting.”

Delegate Michael Angelucci, Delegate Mike Caputo and Delegate Linda Longstreth in a joint statement - 24 August 2020

Bledsoe has pushed back against the claims that his comments were racist.

“The comments had nothing to do with Delegate Walker’s race,” he said.

Bledsoe said the comments had to do with Walker’s support of events like the Drag Queen Story Hour event that was canceled in late 2019.

“[The Drag Queen Story Hour] would bring X-rated acts in front of impressionable young kids, which goes against everything biblical and it is right out of the devil’s playbook,” Bledsoe said.

However, Walker rebukes this claim.

“My heavenly father says love all. Do not pass judgement and I do not. My son is gay. He is not satanic. I am his mother. I am not satanic. I stand with all West Virginians, no exclusions, no exceptions and I pray for you,” said Delegate Walker.

She went on to say Bledsoe’s statement was a “cop out.”

“That is not the truth,” said Del. Walker responding to Bledsoe’s statement. “You share a Dominion Post article with the approval of the Black Lives Matter crosswalk that will be proudly installed in a Morgantown neighborhood. That is where your comment came from. I am sorry my dear sir, this beautiful year-round tan that I live in, that I was born in that I am proud in is not satanic.”

The comment comes two weeks after Bledsoe retracted a portion of another Facebook post that sparked controversy. Tuesday’s Fairmont City Council meeting will be the first time since those controversies that the council will reconvene. Mayor Brad Merrifield says the topic will likely be the primary topic for public comment.

“It - It’s sad for me because - and a lot of others - because some of the instances that have occurred recently paint us in a light that is not who we are a city,” said Mayor Merrifield.

Walker said she will be attending Tuesday night’s council meeting and plans to speak to the council members about the comments.

Bledsoe is not the first member of the current council to draw ire from Facebook posts. Councilman David Kennedy was censured in January for controversial political posts. Mayor Merrifield said censure is not off the table for Bledsoe as well.

“That would not surprise me at all. But it can not happen, time-wise, until the first meeting in September,” said Mayor Merrifield.

He said the delay would be caused by the Open Meetings Act rules that prevent agenda items from being added to public meetings without enough notice prior to that meeting.

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