Update: Monday night, after an hour of public comment from the citizens of Airway Heights, the City Council voted 5-1 in favor of a resolution which expresses no confidence in their mayor.
While many residents and council members of Airway Heights called for Mayor Rushing's resignation, Rushing told the council meeting that he will not step down as mayor.
Rushing will remain in office unless there is a recall.
The no confidence vote comes after Rushing made controversial comments on his Facebook page, that were first reported by KHQ on July 10. Rushing said in the council meeting Monday that he has deleted his Facebook page, calling it "the Devil's tool."
Monday evening, the Airway Heights City Council will consider Resolution 2015-018, which expresses "no confidence" in their Mayor. Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing has been under fire since July 10, when KHQ broke the story that comments he made on his public Facebook page could be construed as racist in nature.
We were alerted to the comments by one of Rushing's Facebook followers who said he was shocked by the comments his mayor was making, going so far as to write on Facebook, "Pat, you're committing political suicide." Normally this is not something we would ever repeat on air or in text, but since the person who contacted us found it so disturbing we felt we had to contact the mayor as to why he would post such a thing.
The comments posted by Mayor Rushing were in response to an earlier comment made in which a woman refers to Michelle Obama as "Gorilla faced." Rushing then writes, ", nailed it! Gorilla face Michelle... can't disagree with that. The woman is not attractive, except to monkey man Barack. Check out them ears. Lol."
Some felt that Mayor Rushing's comment was racist. On Friday, July 10, we showed Mayor Rushing the comments, and he confirmed he posted it. We asked him why and he said, "It's just playful back and forth banter that my friends and I do." Rushing also said the comments weren't meant to be racially offensive, adding, "If anyone is offended, I apologize. It was not meant to be offensive to anybody." Mayor Rushing subsequently made his Facebook page private.
Some people were offended, and at the Airway Heights City Hall, officials took quick action. Following our story on Friday, they called an Executive Session on Monday, July 13. At that meeting all members of the Airway Heights City Council asked Mayor Rushing to step down. Rushing refused, saying, "I will not step down. But I will do everything I can to turn the tide around." Council members directed City Attorney, Stan Schwartz, to draft a resolution outlining the dissatisfaction of the council, their concerns, and possible sanctions. That resolution was supposed to be ready on Monday, July 20, but on Friday, July 17, the Deputy Mayor contacted KHQ to say the draft was already finished.
KHQ was the only station to receive a copy, which expressed "no confidence" in the mayor as a result of his "offensive, derogatory public communications. The resolution also includes sanctions that would limit the mayor's travel and use of city equipment as well as prevent Rushing from speaking in an official capacity.
Airway Heights City Manager, Albert Tripp, says that his office has been getting calls from across the country from people who think the mayor should resign. "We don't condone," Tripp said. "We don't accept or promote these statements or behaviors."
One Airway Heights resident was so adamant about Rushing stepping down that she wrote messages in chalk all around her home reading "Time for a new mayor in AH" and "Hate speech is most dangerous from public figures."
KHQ will be at Monday night's city council meeting and will update how members vote on the resolution.