At least 700 people think “Kenon Gray needs removed from office” after the Henry County Council member shared (and removed) a Facebook meme Friday.
Henry County residents took to local social media groups Friday sharing screenshots of a post Gray reportedly shared featuring U.S. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
Several people called the post racist and shared screenshots of Gray’s personal page and his political campaign page featuring other examples of what they felt were racist posts or links.
New Castle resident Melanie Wright started the online petition to bring awareness to the issue.
“Posting such divisive material could have damaging effects on our community, especially with regard to economic development,” Wright said. “To me, this is not a political issue. It’s an issue of economic growth in our community. It’s an issue of how one man’s views could hinder an entire community.”
Wright said potential new residents or companies looking to move to Henry County could find Gray’s social media page.
“I just want to be clear, Mr. Gray is welcome to have whatever crazy beliefs he wants, regardless of if I believe in them or not, so long as they aren’t broadcasted as a representation of our community. And when you choose to be a County Councilman, everything you do is a representation of our community,” she said.
Wright added, “Many of his inappropriate posts were on the page he specifically dedicates to his work as a councilman (Kenon Gray 4 HC Council).”
The online petition has a goal of 1,000 signatures. Wright said she hopes there are at least 1,000 people “who demand better of our elected leaders in this community.” She understands, however, that some people might have reservations about putting their name on something public like this.
Wright plans to present the signatures along with the comments to the Henry County Council during the July 23 meeting.
“I am hoping it shows the Council that the concerns about Mr. Gray extend beyond ‘crazy leftists ideology,’” Wright said.
Several people contacted The Courier-Times Friday with concerns about the post on Gray’s Facebook page. The post was taken down by early Friday afternoon, however screenshots of it were still making the online rounds Tuesday.
“I was born and raised in this community. I have chosen to stay and raise my family here,” Wright said. “Seeing community leaders behave in this manner makes me sad and makes me question if I should of chosen a different community in which to raise my family. I want our community to be welcoming and inclusive. And Mr. Gray’s social media presence, as a leader in this community, is antagonistic and non-inclusive.”
Wright said she started the petition to remove Gray from public office Saturday morning. According to Wright, she wanted to give Gray the chance “to acknowledge the inappropriateness and divisiveness of his posts.”
Gray’s Facebook and Twitter accounts were deactivated Monday, along with any posts made from those accounts.
A screenshot shared Friday evening from the “Kenon Gray 4 HC Council” account read: “Enjoying Vacay while true haters hate on me from afar. The cleanest examples of hate...”
When The Courier-Times asked Councilman Gray for comments on the Facebook post and the response it generated over the weekend, he replied, “We are still in Texas having visited aging & ailing family members this past week. We have also been asked to self-quarintine (sic) for 14 days upon our return.”
Henry County Council President Susan Huhn had not responded to a request for comment as of press time Tuesday.