Morrisville councilman resigns, cites bullying, harassment
Morrisville Councilman Jerry Windle has resigned midway through his four-year term, announcing in a lengthy statement at Town Hall that he feels harassed and bullied.
Elected in 2017, Windle won praise from Equality NC as one of several gay candidates chosen in municipal elections across North Carolina.
But he found a contentious environment while serving on the council, especially surrounding the Crabtree Crossing Extension project, a perceived threat to Morrisville neighborhoods, particularly the Preston development. In October, the council voted 4-3 against the project, which Windle had supported.
Opponents of the project say Windle targeted them on social media. In April, Bob Butler called for a code of public conduct, saying Windle “has used his town council platform to target me and other private citizens with harassment, misinformation and personal attacks over our successful opposition to the Crabtree Crossing Extension, which Windle championed.”
In his statement Monday, Windle said the bullying predated his term on council and extended into his campaign, including homophobic slurs. He countered that a slander campaign began against him because of the extension project and for calling out a fellow council member for harassment.
“Bullying is an ugly monster that should frighten us all,” Windle said.
Opponents also said Windle had kept disagreement with his positions out of the public debate.
“I find it ironic that an elected public official who would delete my comments and block constituents from posting on his council member Facebook page, denying others their 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech, would repeatedly claim to be harassed by others,” Patty Cheng said in an email to The News and Observer on Wednesday. “I was surprised that he thought so little of the responsibilities of being elected to public office and serving Morrisville, that he would simply abruptly resign.”
On the town’s website, Morrisville officials said the council will meet soon to discuss the next steps for District 2, which Windle represented.
“I appreciate his passion for public schools and his hard work to bring exceptional local public-school choices to Morrisville,” Mayor T.J. Cawley said in an online statement. “As a Navy veteran himself, Jerry has positively impacted awareness and fund raising for the Veterans Memorial Project of Morrisville. For two years, he’s been an insightful collaborator on major Town decisions regarding smart development, transportation and public transit, operating budget priorities and affordable housing.”