Troy Residents Speak Out; Mayor Janice Daniels' Future Uncertain
Public comment for and against Troy Mayor Janice Daniels dominated Monday night's Troy City Council meeting.
Janice Daniels remained mayor of Troy Tuesday morning, despite the best efforts of dozens of residents who vocally urged the embattled mayor to resign during Monday evening's 5 1/2-hour Troy City Council meeting.
Daniels – who has been under fire since Friday for using a gay slur in a June Facebook status update – broke her silence with an apology Monday morning before showing up briefly at a protest organized by the Troy High School Gay-Straight Alliance at Troy City Hall Monday afternoon, where she was not well received by the protesters.
At Monday evening's Troy City Council meeting, many residents were angry with Daniels' use of a gay slur and the negative attention her comment has garnered nationwide, and in a marathon public comment session many questioned her ability continue to perform as mayor of Troy.
Especially eloquent were several Troy High School students who spoke early in the meeting. "This isn't an issue about sexuality ... this is about being human," said Troy High senior Skye Curtis, co-founder of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance.
"The part of this ordeal that is the most morally repugnant to me is the lack of thought that Mayor Daniels put into this ... Daniels' casual use of an outdated slur has had the greatest possible impact on the most innocent members of her constituency, Troy's youth. We are too young to vote but we are not too young to be impacted by your words."
Sabrina Lee, the co-founder with Curtis of the school's GSA, said that when she moved last year to Troy from Pittsburgh, the thing she noticed was its diversity. "I came from a place where it's not uncommon to see people getting hurt based on who they love. Then I came to Troy where I could be openly gay without being bullied for it. ...
"Since you do not believe in equality, I feel more alienated than ever in my city. If you do not believe in equality for all, then you do not believe in equality at all."
"Mayor Daniels – and especially the Troy City Council – the limelight is on you," said Denise Brogan-Kator, executive director of Equality Michigan. "This is your moment; make the best of it. You can do better, and the people of Troy deserve better."
"We celebrate and embrace diversity, and we are so proud of our community tonight," said Michelle Hodges, president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce. "I urge everybody here and everybody listening to not penalize the business community for what has happened."
"We came here tonight because we wanted Mayor Daniels to have a really good look at – and to meet for maybe the first time in her entire life – a gay family," Birmingham resident Amy Weber said. Amy and her wife, Tina, spoke directly to Daniels during public comment, and the couple's two young daughters brought drawings to give to the mayor.
Troy resident Cynthia Wilshire said she's lived in the city for 55 years and that "I've never been so ashamed and embarassed and angry as I was Saturday morning when I got up in the morning to turn on the news and to hear ... what you said.
"Shame on you. Shame on you. And to all of you council people? You are to represent all of us, with your best behavior. This was not good behavior. Your personal opinions should not be the basis of your decisions. You are behaving like Congress."
"This is very serious, because if it isn't the gay people, it's going to be the Polish, or the Jewish, or the Muslim," Toby Gosselin said during public comment. "Your hatred and your prejudice is intolerable, and it needs to go."
Gosselin's comment, along with many others Monday night, drew applause and cheers from the audience, though some of Daniels' supporters commented.
"I came out to support the mayor," Troy resident Barb Yagley said. "I don't think that inflammatory language is ever appropriate. She showed a serious error in judgment in using that word."
Throughout the meeting, Daniels, who remained expressionless during comments, listened to residents' concerns and comments attentively.
Shortly before midnight, the council voted unanimously to continue the meeting and allow more public comments. After that, council members had their say. The meeting officially ended just after 1 a.m. Tuesday, at which time the mayor made a brief statement to Patch.
"I'm so tired," Daniels said. "I wish I could think of something really nice to say, but I can't think of something that would be absolutely appropriate.
"I'm very, very moved by the whole experience," she continued, "and I'm going to be making some considerations certainly in the future."