Ed Piotrowski, a white man who ran for a Sedalia Town Council seat last year, said that, due to his decision to run, Town Council members harassed him, treated him with complete disdain and claimed he was in violation of the law after he recorded a Town Council meeting on his phone and posted it on Facebook.
Some councilmembers were irate when they became aware of the video Piotrowski had posted online – and they let him know it at the following council meeting when he was told he had broken the law by doing so.
Piotrowski told the Rhino Times that he faced resentment from black town leaders because he ran for office, and he said that was why they harassed him for putting the video online.
Piotrowski has lived in Sedalia for about eight years and said that, in that time, there have been no white Town Council members. He said he isn’t aware of any other white people who had ever served on the council, or town boards and committees – other than his own stint on the town’s Planning Board.
Valerie Jones, a former Sedalia town councilmember, said that she came under attack for defending Piotrowski’s right to record Town Council meetings and post them on social media. She recently resigned from her seat and said the council mistreated Piotrowski because he was white and had the audacity to run for a Town Council seat – and they also mistreated her because she was dating a white man.
Piotrowski said that the Town Council, with the exception of Jones, had for years been a textbook description of bad government in action. He said the council frequently ignored the town’s by-laws and Robert’s Rules of Order and attempted to keep white citizens off the council as well as off boards and commissions.
According to Piotrowski, one of the main reasons he ran for office was to increase the transparency of Sedalia’s government. He said the council’s proceedings aren’t known to the citizens because meeting minutes aren’t posted until long after a meeting, and he added that the council will obviously go to great lengths to see that videos of the meetings aren’t recorded or posted online.
“Not everyone can go to a meeting at 7 p.m. on a Monday,” he said.
Piotrowski, who said he was shocked when he was accused of criminal activity for recording a meeting, said he had hoped he could help town residents be informed by winning a seat on the board, speeding up the posting of the minutes and getting the meetings livestreamed. He fell short of the votes he needed to win a seat last November, but he managed to get support from some black voters in town.
Piotrowski said he felt that more transparency in the town’s government would lead to better government in Sedalia and he said he hopes the town leadership will be more open to diverse participation by all citizens in the future.