Ohio trustee apologizes for using n-word during meeting but won’t resign

COMMERCIAL POINT, Ohio (WCMH) — A trustee for Scioto Township is facing a call to resign after being recorded using a racial slur in a board meeting, but his colleague said he is refusing to do so.

The hour-long audio recording obtained by NBC4 came from a Nov. 17 meeting for the township, located in Pickaway County. Trustee Barton Fannin was heard using the n-word while discussing the Juneteenth federal holiday with fellow trustees Ralph Wolfe and John Maynard.

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“I did not realize that was a freakin’ federal holiday,” Fannin said.

“Yeah, yes it is,” Wolfe said.

“No, what it is everybody’s, they took-,” Maynard started to say in the recording.

“You know what it means though, right?” Wolfe asked.

“They took a n***** holiday, right?” Fannin said.

“Whoa! Don’t say that,” Wolfe said.

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The other members present fell silent after this exchange in the recording. Wolfe, the chairman, then continued by explaining how Juneteenth came to be a celebration of the formal end of slavery in the U.S. as Union troops moved into then-Confederate Texas. Afterward, he asked the group to change subjects and handle billing for the township.

The chairman on Wednesday told NBC4 he and Maynard have now called for Fannin’s resignation. Wolfe plans to formally recommend it in the township’s next board meeting.

“Initially, my approach was to seek a private resolution out of respect for our community. However, despite private attempts to encourage Trustee Fannin’s resignation, he remains resistant,” Wolfe said. “It is crucial to emphasize that no racial or derogatory slur is accepted within the realm of Scioto Township. … I recognize and commend his work ethic, but the use of such language is fundamentally at odds with the values of Scioto Township.”

While his colleague said Fannin has refused to resign, Fannin did share a public apology.

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“I used language that was not only disrespectful but extremely hurtful and unacceptable,” Fannin wrote. “My deepest sympathy goes to every individual and family that I have hurt. … I have learned a lot from my actions, and I feel embarrassed by them. I hope over time I can earn this community’s trust once again.”

Fannin declined an on-camera interview but did speak for approximately 45 minutes with NBC 4 reporter Kyle Beachy. During that conversation, Fannin, through tears, did express remorse for using the word during a public meeting.

The Scioto Township trustees originally had a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening, but Wolfe said it was canceled. They plan to meet instead at 7 p.m. Thursday.

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