Georgetown Mayor calls for councilwoman to step down amid confederate flag controversy

GEORGETOWN, Del. – Georgetown Mayor Bill West is calling on Councilwoman Sue Barlow to step down while raising serious concerns against Councilwoman Angela Townsend, saying she has “some feelings of white power” following comments she made at Monday night’s controversial council meeting.

47 ABC’s Rob Petree sat down with Mayor West to react Tuesday afternoon to Monday night’s council meeting where concerned citizens and members of the Central Delaware NAACP turned out to condemn council over their decision to fund a local museum that flies the confederate flag.

“Georgetown is better than this and we need to lead, we are the county seat, we don’t need to be where we are with a black eye,” Mayor West said. “We’ve got a very diverse group of people in the Town of Georgetown and I want to represent them all, and to represent them all you’ve got to start with doing away with the hatred.”

Mayor West expressed grave concerns over the health of his colleague Councilwoman Sue Barlow and said he believes she should step down and get out of government.

“I really do, I don’t think Sue’s health is what it should be,” Mayor West said when asked if Councilwoman Barlow should step down. “I’m no doctor, but just looking at her sitting there and some of her actions, I feel she’s struggling and I don’t want her to pass away in any way, but her health is not good and she needs to take care of herself and not worry about the government at this time.”

This follows a contentious exchange between Mayor West and Councilwoman Barlow during Monday night’s meeting.

“If we should be mad at anybody, it should be Sue,” Mayor West stated during the meeting. “She was on council when this ordinance was passed.”

Councilwoman Barlow responded to Mayor West, citing her age and her assumption that town leadership had read and knew of the ordinance.

“I just want to defend myself Bill,” Councilwoman Barlow said. “That ordinance that you’re talking about was passed in 2008 [actually passed in 2007] I was on the council at the time, but ya know that’s a long time ago and I am 78 years old, so I don’t have a really good memory and I assumed that the Town Manager and the Town Solicitor had read the ordinance and knew what it said.”

The ordinance they’re referring to is from 2007 and specifically states that when it comes to G.R.E.A.T. funding, which is where the $24,750 to the Georgetown Historical Society was allocated from, the Georgetown Town Council must establish a committee to review such funding prior to approving it and that committee may then recommend the funding be put forth for a vote on council. No such committee process was formed prior to the vote to approve the funding at the council meeting on July 25, 2022.

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The condemnation comes after the check was delivered to the historical society, who owns and operates the Marvel Museum, where a confederate flag flies at a monument honoring soldiers who fought in the confederacy during the Civil War.

A check that was to be delivered to the organization was voided by Georgetown Mayor Bill West after learning that no formal committee process was established prior to the vote that approved the funding, which could open the door to a potential lawsuit. Three council members, Angela Townsend, Sue Barlow, and Penuel Barrett pushed ahead with that funding, delivering a new check to the historical society earlier this month.

During our interview, Mayor West called out Councilwoman Townsend, saying her recent remarks have led some people to think she’s “very racist.”

“Angie needs to think before she speaks because a lot of her language is leading people to think that she is very racist,” Mayor West stated. “The comments she makes, and her husband made in public comment, shows that they’ve got some feelings of white power, and it’s not gonna happen here in Georgetown, I’m not gonna let it happen.”

Following the approval of the funding last month, we spoke with Councilwoman Angela Townsend, who we asked if the feelings of black residents in Georgetown mattered to her, to which she replied: “Yes, it matters to me,” she said in response. “I am not promoting slavery, or what happened in the past, the only thing I am doing is, I’m trying to preserve history so it doesn’t repeat itself.”

Since then, numerous attempts by 47 ABC to reach both Councilwoman Townsend and Councilwoman Barlow have been ignored.

There have also been grave concerns in the town over the potential of a lawsuit following the way the funding was approved, a concern Mayor West expressed during Monday night’s meeting.

Both the Central Delaware NAACP and the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice have stated they are exploring potential lawsuits as it relates to the Town of Georgetown’s handling of approving the funding. No official litigation has been filed at this time.

Multiple calls to Georgetown Historical Society President Jim Bowden have went unanswered.

This is a developing story and 47 ABC News will release more information as it becomes available.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Local Politics