'Keep Marysville white': racist remark by would-be councilor shocks Michigan city

Ed Pilkington
Photograph: Brian Wells/AP

For the first hour of the election forum in Marysville, Michigan, on Thursday night the debate between the five candidates for a city council seat dealt with the local subjects you might expect – how to improve Little League fields, new real estate developments and the like.

Then the question came: “Do you believe the diversity of our community needs to be looked at?”

First to answer was Jean Cramer, a local resident running her first political campaign. She replied: “Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible.”

Her response, reported by the Times-Herald newspaper in Port Huron, sent a ripple of laughter and then shock across the hall. Marysville, a small town of 10,000 north-east of Detroit, is 98% white and 0.3% African American.

Cramer’s unalloyed remark was immediately denounced by other Marysville figures. The town’s acting mayor, Kathy Hayman, said: “I don’t even know that I can talk yet, I’m so upset and shocked.”

Hayman added that her father was Syrian. “So basically, what you’ve said is that my father and his family had no business in this community.”

The outgoing mayor, Dan Damman, called Cramer’s comments “as vile as they were jaw-dropping”.

After the forum ended, Cramer doubled down on her racist outburst to the Times Herald.

She insisted she was not “against blacks” but went on to say: “A husband and wife need to be the same race … That’s how it’s been [since] … God created the heaven and the earth. He created Adam and Eve at the same time.”

Paradoxically, of the five candidates in November’s mayoral election, Cramer has the weakest roots within Marysville. The other four were born in the town or have lived there for decades, but as the Times Herald pointed out she only moved to the community within the last 10 years.