Comments by Arlington mayor Jeff Williams about opponents of a proposed Texas Rangers ballpark have drawn considerable scrutiny.
The debate over the $1 billion proposal has been contentious at times, with Vote Yes! and Citizens for a Better Arlington–under its Save Our Stadium PAC– respectively at the front of the pro and anti-ballpark campaigns. During a meeting with the citizen’s group Action Arlington, Williams made some choice comments about ballpark opponents that were interpreted by some as shots at Arlington’s voting body. The comments were recorded and relayed by several media outlets, including the Star-Telegram:
Williams also could be heard saying about some opponents, “You wouldn’t leave your kids with them to baby-sit them,” and that some “do not have the intelligence there to be able to translate that we’re investing money in the entertainment district to make money.”
Faith Bussey, president of the PAC and its opposition campaign, Save Our Stadium, said she “was shaking” as she listened to the recording. “I couldn’t believe he would say those things — not just about us, but about the voters.”
But the supporters of Williams — he’s also the Vote Yes! campaign chairman — weren’t as concerned by what he said as at whom it was directed.
Brian Mayes, campaign manager and consultant for the lead support PAC, Vote Yes! Keep the Rangers, said Williams was speaking strictly about Citizens for a Better Arlington and not about voters in general — which a letter from the group had contended.
Williams’ comments came as he spoke about the importance of turning out for the vote, a message he delivered with some extra urgency because he believed early voting results were largely against the Rangers’ proposal. On the tape, a portion of which can be heard here, Williams makes some criticisms not only about ballpark opponents, but some critical media coverage of the project.
Regardless of Williams’ intentions, the comments add to what has been an increasingly contentious ballot measure. Right now, it does not bode well for the pro-ballpark side to have to defend these comments made by one of its visible figures, particularly with the election just a week away.
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