Waynesboro Vice Mayor apologizes for crude remark

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 6:30 PM EST
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - The Vice Mayor of Waynesboro has come under fire for a comment he made about U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Last week on his weekly Facebook Live Show “Conservative Conversations with Jim” Vice Mayor Jim Wood referred to Buttigieg as ‘Pete Buttplug’ while discussing the train derailment in Ohio. Some in Waynesboro who commented on Facebook took offense to the comment citing it as a homophobic slur since Buttigieg is an openly gay man.

Wood has apologized for the remark and spoke with WHSV on Tuesday. He said that the comment was taken out of context and was meant to be a play on Buttigieg’s last name. He said he had no intention of being homophobic but recognized that the comment was insensitive.

Wood said that his focus remains on improving Waynesboro and that he has nothing but the best intentions for the city. He added that he is not a judgmental person and that he has no ill will toward anyone based on their sexual orientation.

Wood sent the following statement to WHSV regarding his comment:

I apologize to Council, the residents of Waynesboro, and to Mr. Buttigieg personally. I understand now that my comment was insensitive and unbecoming of a member of Council. I am truly sorry.

My priority is the City of Waynesboro, and I would never intentionally want to have a negative impact on our city, our Council, or our citizens. I am proud that we have a very diverse community, and both me and my words need to reflect that in the future.

The constant political attacks and threats on me by certain groups have been non-stop since the election and I am honestly sorry that my words were hurtful to some, but I hope people take the time to see through the political theater to know that I have nothing but the best of intentions and will put forth my best efforts for the future of Waynesboro.

Waynesboro Mayor Lana Williams said that Wood’s statement does not reflect the views of the council and the type of language that was used has no place in the city. She sent the following statement to WHSV on behalf of the rest of the city council:

As the Mayor of Council and a leader in our community, I cannot condone Mr. Wood’s comments in the podcast. Although Mr. Wood was speaking as a private citizen, his comments have a negative impact on the City, its residents, and Council. Mr. Wood’s comments do not reflect the City or City Council.

Nor do his comments reflect the policy of the City and Council to respect and be respectful of everyone and to treat everyone with compassion and dignity. Such language is just unacceptable in any context and has no place in our City.

Even if Mr. Wood did not mean for the comment to be interpreted as a slur, he should have at least recognized that others in the community would take his comment as a slur. Because it is a slur. As a representative of the people of Waynesboro, he should not be making comments that are insulting and demeaning to our residents. I have heard from many of those residents, and they are not happy.

I understand Mr. Wood’s 1st Amendment rights, but we as members of Council must hold ourselves to a heightened standard. This matter is being discussed amongst Council members and we are working together to address this situation. I plan speaking about this issue publicly at our next meeting on February 27th.