Eula Clarke steps down as Stuart mayor after 'pig' comment about officer

Independent investigator will now look into case
Posted at 5:28 PM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 06:28:42-05

Stuart Mayor Eula Clarke resigned from her position Wednesday following the controversy surrounding a comment she made in a Stuart grocery store.

Clarke is accused of offending a Stuart police officer when she walked into a grocery store and allegedly, in the presence of the officer, said, “I didn’t know we were serving pig tonight.”

“Unfortunately, I made a mistake. We all make mistakes and I am truly and humbly sorry,” Clarke said in a prepared statement before announcing her resignation as mayor, stepping down to serve only as a city commissioner.

On Wednesday night, more than 50 people spoke in support of Clarke, while several spoke in criticism of her during a public hearing.

City Attorney Mike Mortell said commissioners have received nearly 700 emails from community members concerned about what Clarke is accused of saying.

Stuart residents spoke up to city commissioners saying,”You need to show some compassion. She probably said it in a joking manner.”

But according to Mortell, the issue is that no one really knows what she meant. Clarke has apologized for her comments but has not clarified her comments.

Some residents believe it was a cultural misunderstanding, saying in Clarke’s Jamaican descent, pork is called pig. She was referring to her dinner, they claim.

Sgt. John Kazanjian, who is the president of the Police Benevolent Association, also spoke at Wednesday’s meeting.

“You keep on bringing up the meat products. Is it that you said it or you didn’t say it. I mean, we’re all confused,” Kazanjian said.

Now the city will hire an independent investigator to get to the bottom of her statement, make sure policies were not violated and make sure there is not a history of this behavior for Clarke.

Commissioners voted in favor of the investigation. Clarke was the only commissioner who voted against the investigation.

“It’s not for the purpose of punishing anybody. It’s making sure that the work environment at the city is free from the perception of hostility,” Mortell said.

Some residents said they did not want the investigation, saying they just want to put this situation in the past.

Others say the investigation is the only way to clear the air and build up trust in Clarke.

If the investigation finds a pattern of wrongdoing for Clarke, she could be at risk for losing her commission seat.

Mortell says other commissioners could end up being investigated if their names come up in the course of this investigation or if similar complaints are made against them.

Mortal said it is mandatory that some kind of investigation, which could last about 30 days, follow a complaint of this nature.