Megan ZerezMercury Staff
Richardson City Council member Scott Dunn made national headlines last week over a tweet in which he referred to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a “bimbo.” In a statement on Monday, Dunn said he had received a number of death threats since the incident.
The date and context of the tweet are unclear, as Dunn deleted his social media accounts on Friday after the controversy erupted. Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker condemned the tweet in a press release Friday.
At a Feb. 11 City Council meeting, Richardson residents took to the podium to voice their views on Dunn’s tweet. After hearing comments from citizens, Dunn read a prepared statement before the council and audience.
“I used poor grammar and failed to proofread. A big apology to my teachers back in North Carolina and Louisiana,” Dunn said. “(I used) a poor choice of words, one that applies only to females, to express my discern for an elected official who publicly stands for socialism and abortion, even late-term.”
In the statement, Dunn said he stands by his political beliefs.
“I do not apologize for standing on the side of life and patriotism,” he said. “I will continue to speak out against those who at the national level who want to change our form of government, disparage our law enforcement agencies and support legislation that does not protect innocent life among us.”
Voelker’s Feb. 8 statement did not specify whether Dunn had violated the city’s code of ethics, but said his use of the slur was “clearly inconsistent with Richardson’s values, as further articulated by the City Council’s Rules of Engagement.”
Former teacher Carol Stum, a Richardson resident, said she felt the statement did not constitute a genuine apology.
“It’s the kind of apology I used to get from my students, ‘Gee, I’m sorry your head hurts after I smacked you,’” Stum said. “He was not sorry for what he said, he said he was sorry that it got the blow up that it did.”
Stum said she felt that Dunn’s response to the controversy conflated the “bimbo” remarks with other issues.
“(The controversy) had nothing to do with abortion or the president,” Stum said.
Another Richardson resident, Pam Wren, said she was disappointed but not surprised by the tweet.
“I saw his Twitter feed before it was taken down and his profile clearly said he was (with) Richardson City Council,” Wren said. “I read the Twitter feed and this was not the only inappropriate comment. My regret is that I didn’t copy all of that … some of the other things he said were not appropriate for a city council person to be stating.”
Some of the residents who spoke against Dunn said they chose to move to Richardson for jobs or education, such as Jessica Hook. Hook praised the diversity of Richardson before calling on Dunn to step down.
“His words in no way reflect the Richardson I have come to know and love,” Hook said.
Several other residents also called for Dunn to resign. He has three months left in his term and will not be seeking reelection.
Among the other visitors at the meeting were several large groups of Dunn’s friends and colleagues who came to speak in his defense.
In his address to the council, long-time friend Rick Florance said he saw Dunn’s comments as a defense of President Trump.
“I think Scott was defending our country and defending our president. And I’m defending him because I agree 100 percent with what he said. The only thing he did wrong was apologize,” Florance said.
Florance said he felt that Dunn’s critics were hypocritical in not also critiquing Ocasio-Cortez for her remarks.
“People like Ms. Osaka (sic) (go) out there and (say) that the president is racist and that the speaker for the president is a liar,” Florance said. “But if you said she’s unintelligent, all of a sudden you’re a bad person and you ought to step down.”
Richardson resident and UTD alumnus Ron Kormos said he’s known Dunn for 25 years through church.
“I think we just move on. He’s apologized. He’s got his opinions. He’s done a great job for Richardson in six to eight years in office here,” Kormos said. “Everything he’s done he’s devoted to Richardson (and) this one thing he’s said should not change that.”
Dunn declined to comment further on his statement, but said he was happy to see the outpouring of support from friends and residents.
Stum said she saw a clear divide in the audience. She said she thinks the controversy is indicative of a larger trend, especially as the university and businesses draw newcomers to the city.
“Things are changing here in Richardson,” Stum said. “And if they don’t realize that pretty soon, they’ll be gone. Maybe that’s what this whole thing will do, it’ll encourage people to come out and vote.”