ANTIOCH (KPIX) – City leaders in Antioch voted unanimously to oust the chief planning commissioner over his controversial comments about the coronavirus.
The Antioch City Council held a special meeting on Friday evening via Zoom to decide if they should fire the now, former commission chairman Ken Turnage II, who said COVID-19 is nature’s way of taking out the homeless, the weak, and the old and it should be allowed to happen.
Public speakers and roughly 90 emails were read before the final vote.
Turnage II said it’s his personal opinion, which he posted on his personal Facebook page. He defended his action by saying it’s his freedom of speech.
“I don’t feel like I did anything wrong that I should resign for. I didn’t say anything negative about the city,” said Turnage II.
He came under fire after he posted the lengthy Facebook post on April 23rd. He has since taken it down because of death threats.
In part, he wrote “we have our old, we have our weak and we have our drains on our resources. This virus is targeting those sectors of our population. But as species, for our nation and as a planet we would strengthen when this is all settled.”
His post went on to say, “we would lose many elderly, that would reduce burdens in our defunct social security system, health care cost (once the wave subsided), make jobs available for others and it would also free up housing in which we are in dire need of.”
“I believe in ecological balance. If something happens from nature and it takes its course on the human species, that’s what it does,” Turnage II told KPIX 5 in an interview outside of his construction company. “I don’t regret posting or saying what I believe or what my opinions are.”
Turnage II said he’s not discriminating against any groups. He simply wanted to lift the shelter-in-place order so the economy can get back on track.
“To people to get so offended by a personal opinion, it says a lot about what has happened to our society,” said Turnage II.
This is the second Bay Area planning commissioner to get in trouble this week. A Vallejo commissioner resigned after he drank alcohol, used a bad word and tossed his cat during a city meeting via Zoom.
“It’s a reckless thing to say. It’s just very appalling,” said Antioch Councilwoman Monica E. Wilson.
Councilwoman Wilson and Mayor Sean Wright asked Turnage II to resign, without success.
“That statement was very divisive. Now is the time for us to come together, to show the community that we value their life,” said Councilwoman Wilson.
Councilman Lamar Thorpe said as public officials, they’re representing more than 110,000 residents in Antioch and words do matter.
“We received so many emails and telephone calls from senior citizens who are outraged and in absolute disbelief when they hear things that remind them of Nazi Germany,” said Councilman Thorpe.
There are five people on the city council. It takes three votes to fire Turnage II.