Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst has been making national headlines this week for controversial remarks — including a homophobic slur directed at presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg — during a commission meeting Monday. Also at that meeting — three Blount County commissioners.
County Commissioner Mike Akard refused to comment on Hurst’s remarks. Commissioner Nick Bright, however, gave a phone interview to The Daily Times.
“I was shocked. I could not believe he would make those comments in a public forum,” Bright said.
Commissioner Steve Mikels initially refused comment before speaking to The Daily Times.
The remarks have been covered by such national outlets as HuffPost and The Washington Post.
“Look what we got running for president in the Democratic Party. We can go over here to (the county jail) and get better people out of there than those running for Democratic, to be president of the United States,” Hurst said, according to CBS affiliate WVLT, which captured some of his comments on video. “We got a queer running for president, if that ain’t about as ugly as you can get.”
Hurst’s comments were well-received by the audience, Bright said.
“People were cheering,” he said.
Hurst’s comments were made as a result of Larry Waters, mayor of Sevier County, asking the commissioners if they wanted to make any statement on the record.
Several commissioners spoke, according to Bright, but Hurst was the only one who spoke about anything other than the items on the meeting agenda.
“I’m not prejudiced, but by golly, a white male in this country has very few rights, and they’re getting took more every day,” Hurst said. “You’ll hear ’em stand on the stage and say, ‘Oh, I’m for the poor and the black.’ You never heard one of them say ‘I believe white people have rights, too.’”
Mikels said he, Akard and Bright were only at the meeting to support the Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution.
“I can’t condone his comments, but I hate that they’ve gotten so much attention and taken away from the resolution they were voting on,” he said.
The resolution being voted on was to declare Sevier County a Second Amendment Sanctuary. It ultimately passed unanimously.
Blount County passed a similar resolution in May.
If a community is a Second Amendment Sanctuary, it objects to “red flag laws,” according to the May resolution.
“Red flag laws,” the Safe Tennessee Project says, allow immediate family members or law enforcement officials to file a petition to temporarily remove firearms from people believed to be a threat to themselves or others.
In August, President Donald Trump called for red flag laws to go into effect throughout the country. Gov. Bill Lee disagreed in a rare break from the president.
“It’s early for us to talk about which direction we want to go,” Lee said about the laws at the National Conference of State Legislatures in August.
Also disagreeing with the implementation of ”red flag laws” were the 15 Blount County Commissioners who voted to make the community a Second Amendment Sanctuary.