Thursday, November 09, 2000

Ousted mayor unbowed

Defends remark despite losses

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WAYNESVILLE — A day after suffering two stinging political defeats, Charles Sanders had regrets but no apologies for speaking his mind.

        On Tuesday, he lost his challenge to 2nd District Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park.

Charles Sanders
Charles Sanders
        But what hurt him more was being recalled as the mayor here, primarily over his accusation that the village police department engaged in racial profiling.

        “In retrospect, I should have let others get involved in this (profiling charge) before before voicing my opinion,” he said Wednesday. “I overreacted, and then I be came vilified and victimized. Elements in the community made me the culprit.”

        His charge caused a furor in the village of about 1,900 people. It soon led to requests that he resign, which he refused.

        The recall means he will be replaced by Vice Mayor Sandra Stemple. Council will appoint someone to fill her vacant council seat.

        A charter amendment approved Tuesday requires council to give first consideration to candidates who ran in the previous election, in this case Richard Keefer and Mark Lord, said Village Manager Kevin Harper.

        “We've sent them letters,” Mr. Harper said. “But council isn't required to appoint them.”

        He said officials are trying to determine exactly when Ms. Stemple takes over as mayor. The Warren County Board of Elections won't certify the election results until Nov. 21.

        Ms. Stemple could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

        As opposition to Mr. Sanders grew over the summer, opponents also claimed he was spending too much time on his bid for Congress. They said Mr. Sanders didn't attend committee meetings.

        “I've always spoken up for my constituents,” he said. “So I was really surprised to see the vote go the way it did. I kept thinking it would turn around.”

        The vote was 691-473 for the recall.

        The recall stemmed from an incident Feb. 26, when two village police officers stopped three black men for alleged traffic violations. The men claimed they were held at gunpoint and handcuffed while officers searched for drugs. The men were not charged.

        Mr. Sanders, one of Waynesville's three adult black residents, accused Police Chief Allen Carter of condoning racial profiling.

        The chief denied it, and a subsequent council meeting became heated.

        In May, a Warren County sheriff's investigation cleared the two officers of engaging in profiling.

        “I think (Mr. Sanders') reaction and his comment made people feel that he no longer was serving them,” said Bill Stubbs, a local businessman.

        “This is not about good people and bad people. This is about events.”

        Councilman Phillip Day, who helped start the recall, said the incident caused a deep divide in the normally close-knit community, sometimes called the Antiques Capital of the Midwest.

        Residents, Mr. Day said, “wanted to move Waynesville into the future with new leadership that will restore pride, help manage the impending growth of the village and heal the wounds that have festered here for so long.”

        That was an issue for Patrick H. Irelan, a longtime Sanders family friend who supported the recall.

        He said he is sad but satisfied to see Mr. Sanders leave office.

        “I feel sorry for Charles,” he said. “I think the world of him. But this had to happen.”

        Mr. Sanders, who has held public office in town about nine years, defended his motives.

        “I felt it was my duty to speak out and speak for the young and old. I'd rather stand with what's right — with the Lord — than with 10,000 people and be wrong.”


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