Piedmont Mayor Jeff Wieler resigned Sunday after an uproar over offensive comments he made on Facebook last week against members of the black and transgender communities.
Piedmont, a small hamlet of more than 10,000 residents encircled by Oakland, does not directly elect its mayor. Instead, the five-person city council appoints the mayor. For that reason, Wieler was essentially demoted from mayor to councilmember.
Councilmember Bob McBain now becomes acting mayor. Wieler is termed out of office in 2018.
Before Wieler’s resignation, a special city council meeting had been scheduled for this Monday night to discuss removing him as mayor.
The controversy stemmed from a series of comments Wieler made toward a Piedmont resident on Facebook. The online exchange was deleted by Wieler, but some of its content was read by the resident during a council meeting on Aug. 21.
Wieler’s comments generally amounted to right-wing screeds, including a description of Black Lives Matters activists as “cop killers” and calling transgender people “mentally ill.”
In his resignation letter, Wieler said his comments were inappropriate and that he was embarrassed by the entire incident.
“After a quarter century of volunteering for Piedmont in various roles, I regret the impact this has had upon the city I love and the men and women in the staff who do such a fine job for our citizens,” wrote Wieler. “I am proud of what I accomplished as a civic volunteer. I am less proud of how my service as Mayor is ending.”
In a separate statement, Wieler acknowledged the similarities between his statements and that of the president, while noting he never used the president’s primary mode of online discourse.
“We have a president who has coarsened the national dialogue and made many people feel insulted. No matter what you think of his policies and programs, this is a reality that I and many other Republicans are coming to acknowledge,” he wrote.
“I apologize deeply for the pain I’ve caused,” he said. “Going forward, I will restrict my Facebook posts to pictures of our pets and vacation pictures. Fortunately, I’ve never tweeted!”