NAACP calls for Westover City Attorney’s resignation after derogatory, sexist comment

Monongalia

Stranko speaking during a city meeting

WESTOVER, W.Va. – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Morgantown/Kingwood branch is calling for the resignation of City Attorney Tim Stranko.

Del. Walker

The call for his resignation comes after a secret recording surfaced in which Stranko can be heard calling Del. Danielle Walker a derogatory term for females. Walker is the only black woman in the West Virginia House of Delegates. She was not present during the private meeting with Stranko and others in September 2020.

“Reprehensible,” Dr. Jerry Carr, Jr., president of the Morgantown/Kingwood NAACP said in a press release. “I don’t know how the public could feel comfortable about this city leadership if they’re willing to look at people who think differently from them as less than human.”

Del. Walker said she found out about the secret recording through others. Once the recording surfaced on Youtube, she said people starting sending her clips. She, like most others, doesn’t know who published it.

All they know is he goes by Alex Butterfield on Youtube and has 10 subscribers to his channel.

Throughout her three-year stint as a delegate, Walker said she has faced calls for her resignation and discrimination, so this was nothing new to her. But she is demanding action.

Stranko

“I’m calling for some action,” Walker said. “I am calling for maybe an ethics investigation.”

Accountability, Walker said, is what this moment calls for, so she said she stands with the NAACP.

While she has weathered much worse abuse in her time, something so egregious cannot go unpunished, Walker said.

As always, my shoulders are wide, my load is heavy. See something, say something, follow through. I heard it, I’ve seen it. I said something by attending the Westover meeting the following week. I attended this past week’s meeting and my follow through is this — let’s raise the voices. Let’s make those folks accountable, and if a resignation is what the NAACP is calling for, I wonder how many others will call for that same resignation? I stand with the residents. I stand with Morgantown/Kingwood NAACP and I stand with we the people. 

Del. Danielle Walker (D – Monongalia 51)

Walker spoke directly to the city council during a public come session after hearing Stranko on the recording. She gave an impassioned speech.

Walker speaking directly to city council

Afterward, she said, Stranko approached her and offered “somewhat of an apology”.

Walker said she questioned his intentions.

“But, I am neither his judge nor his jury,” she said. “And, I told him it was forgiven as I heard it, as I forgive all those who trespass against me and all my oppressors because that’s exactly what he is.”

Walker said she finds it “mighty funny” that every time she attends a meeting, Stranko is always the one to greet and welcome her.

It shows, she said, that he presents her one face and displays another behind her back. This is, in part, why Walker does not fully believe Stranko’s apology and justification that anger led him to his derogatory comment.

Stranko speaking during a city meeting

“Anger makes it okay?” Walker asked. “Does anger allow an abuser to portray abuse on anyone? Does anger allow anyone just to murder someone? Does anger allow anyone to degrade anyone without consequences? You are the city attorney, you represent the City of Westover and there should be accountability. And if that accountability is resignation, so be it.”

Walker said she demands accountability for Stanko and others heard on the secret recording laughing at his comment.  

Those people are believed to be the Interim Chief of Police John Morgan, Councilman Steve Andryzcik and former Chief of Police Richard Panico.

“It is high time that we stop giving a pass to the ‘good ole boys club’ because his statement and the laughter after is exactly what it is. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I am black. Yes, I am a West Virginian. And yes, I am here to stay. Yes, you will respect me as a public official. You might not like me, but I represent Westover just as my other four colleagues do. And it’s just mighty funny that no one else was called outside of their name, as many of us has marched for Black Lives Matter and been very vocal.

Walker speaking at a BLM protest for Daunte Wright

Walker continued.

“So, when you listen to the whole recording, I don’t think anything that I said in any of the City of Westover meetings was false. Westover can be an unsafe place, especially when you have certain officers on the force. Westover can be an unsafe place. It starts with leadership. Look at the city attorney — no respect, just disregard and demeaning.”

Stranko could not be reached for comment, neither could the NACCP.

You can read the NAACP’s entire call for resignation here.

Walker said she doesn’t know how the city will proceed in light of this recording, but she will continue her job fighting and advocating for the rights of her constituents. She said she knows the community as a whole is better than this, it just needs work solidifying its foundation.

“As Mr. Stranko said in the meeting on Monday, ‘we are better than this and it’s time that we start building’,” Walker said. “My question is how can you build when your foundation is surely not steady?” 

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