Robinson cites ‘regression and racist sentiments’ for severance of Democratic party ties

Local News

Two members of the Vanderburgh County Democratic Party have severed their affiliation. 

Long-time city council member Connie Robinson, along with social justice activist William Payne, announced their decision through social media. 

This comes after heated primaries and city council meeting this week.

Just two days before announcing her departure from the party Robinson walked out of Monday night’s City Council meeting. Her early exit came after members voted to strike down a motion to name Reverend William Payne on the commission on the Social Status of African American Males. 

“When you look at the purpose of this of this commission I think he fits the criteria,” said Robinson about Payne on Monday. 

Democratic council member Missy Mosby cited comments Payne made about her during the primary campaign as to why she would not support appointing him, “I will not appoint him to serve on any board, it’s just what he did was absolutely wrong,” she said Monday night. 

Republicans Justin Elpers and Michelle Mercer supported Mosby. Mercer then said she heard Payne had one time been convicted of a felony. She said Payne did not have the moral character to serve on the commission. 

“So I do not feel he has the moral character to serve on one of our city boards, My understanding is that he also has a past felony record, if that is correct I don’t know,” said Mercer on Monday. 

Robinson argued that was unnecessary and walked out during the vote, “That is not a criteria Michelle Mercer, that is not a criteria.”

Robinson says she is no longer a Democrat saying the local party has become one of ‘regression and racist sentiments.’ She believes it has dissolved into a party of intolerance and will finish her term as an independent. 

Democratic councilman Jonathan Weaver says he believes Payne would have served well in the position, “When we have meetings there’s rarely a quorum and I think he would have been the person to kick some butt.”

He wishes Robinson the best, “She’s done a great job over the last 24 years and we’re happy she’s going to finish out her term with dignity.”

Vanderburgh County Democratic Party Chairman Scott Danks says he was deeply saddened by the news 

In a statement on Facebook, William Payne says he will not be taking any board appointments or assignments.

He says he plans to follow in Robinson’s footsteps by moving his affiliation as well. 

As for Michelle Mercer she later issued an apology for making her comments about Payne.

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(This story was originally published on May 22, 2019)

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