Tyrus Byrd won over Randall Ramsey, who had served as the mayor for 37 years under two terms. Byrd, a former city clerk, emerged victorious in the overall vote count by a margin of 122 to 84, as per USA Today.
Byrd was sworn in on April 14.
Her election as the new mayor witnessed resignations from five city police officers, in addition to Parma’s city attorney, clerk and water treatment supervisor. They resigned over “safety concerns.”
The newly elected mayor, however, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she did not know what the officials meant when they cited safety as a cause for their departure.
She said, “I don’t understand. I never said anything about cleaning house. … Am I the safety concern?”
According to the newspaper, before the April 7 election, a white police officer had Tased a black individual after he denied discussing a case about prank phone calls made to the police department. Although the incident ignited protests, it didn’t last long.
The black individual was a relative of Byrd.
Former assistant chief Rich Medley, who was among those who quit, revealed he and other officers had several confrontations with Byrd’s relatives.
Medley said in an interview with Vocativ, “The interactions led me to believe the newly elected mayor would either not allow me to do my job as required by law, or pursue disciplinary action on me of some sort when I did.”
He didn’t attribute his decision of leaving to either gender or race.
“If it was about race, I wouldn’t have served the town of Parma,” he said. The town is 60% white and 40% black.
He said that the allegations of being called racist or sexist are “appalling” and “personally offensive.”
“A person is a person, whether they are a man or woman, white, black, yellow, brown, pink or purple,” he said.
Some residents raised objections to the resignation of the officers. Martha Miller told KFVS, “I think it’s pretty dirty they all quit without giving her a chance.”
Despite the police force reduced, she believes that safety is not a concern.
“I don’t think they hurt the town any by quitting, because who needs six police for 740 people,” she added.
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