A city council candidate in Michigan brought a community forum to a stunned standstill by declaring that her small community outside of Detroit should remain white “as much as possible.”
Jean Cramer, one of five candidates vying for three open seats in the November election, responded to a moderator who had asked whether Marysville should be more aggressive in seeking foreign-born residents.
“Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible,” Cramer replied. “White. Seriously. In other words, no foreign-born, no foreign people.”
According to an account of the meeting in The Times Herald in Port Huron, the audience responded with a “brief guffaw,” which was followed by other candidates responding to the question. No one echoed Cramer’s views.
In fact, others at the forum condemned her racist, xenophobic comment.
Incumbent Councilman Paul Wessel, who spoke immediately after Cramer, seemed shocked. “Wow!” he declared before adding that anyone who could afford to live in Marysville should be welcome.
Marysville, a small town in St. Clair County, is about 55 miles northeast of Detroit. Census figures show that 9,959 people lived there in 2010. But 2018 estimates suggest the population had fallen about 2.7%, to 9,687, prompting concerns about whether to increase the population by seeking to attract immigrants to the area, as other Great Lakes communities have done.
Following the forum, a reporter asked Cramer if she wished to revise or clarify her comment. She did — by expressing even more racist remarks.
“Husband and wife need to be the same race,” she told the reporter. “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.”
Mayor pro tem Kathy Hayman, another council candidate whose father is Syrian, was rendered speechless by Cramer’s comments. When her turn came to speak during the forum, she said she wasn’t even sure “if I could talk yet. I am so upset and shocked.”
Hayman’s father, the late Joseph Johns, owned a business in the town and was an elected official for decades. The council’s meeting room where the forum was being held was named in his honor.
“So basically, what you’ve said is that my father and his family had no business to be in this community,” Hayman told Cramer.
Mike Deising, also a candidate, tried to make a joke of Cramer’s retrograde opinion, saying: “Just checking the calendar here and making sure it’s still 2019.”