A New Zealand mayor has seen a surge of support after his savage response to a persistent conspiracy theorist constituent who had been directing threats towards council staff for years.
In an email exchange last year, the Mayor of the Thames-Coromandel District on New Zealand’s North Island, Len Salt, concluded his message with a candid suggestion to the individual: “Go f—k yourself.”
The correspondence originated from the conspiracy theorist, accusing Salt and the council of engaging in “extremely unlawful actions,” portraying them as a “fictitious entity” with the “intent to coerce, deceive, and enslave” the individual and others.
Salt told local media he deemed the request for private information about staff members as an alarming escalation of the ongoing threats.
Describing the individual as part of the sovereign citizen movement, a group that rejects government laws and regulations, Salt expressed concern over the increasing hostility council members and staff face.
“This is happening on multiple levels. Social media, emails, face-to-face contact across customer service counters, in council meetings and community board meetings, in public information sessions organised by council staff, in the streets and supermarkets,” he said.
Following the public disclosure of the email chain, initially brought to light on social media by a political rival of Salt, the mayor asserted that the majority of responses supported his forthrightness.
He claims to have received backing from other mayors, elected members, residents, and ratepayers nationwide.
“I’ve had a huge amount of positive response, including from many mayors and elected members, past and present, as well as residents and ratepayers from across the country,” he told AAP.
“The real issue is not that one mayor dropped an F-bomb, but the amount of aggression that council staff and elected members are subjected to on a daily basis.
“So, let’s move the discussion on to how we can counter that behaviour and build stronger, kinder, more tolerant and more collaborative communities.
“I’ll promise to stop swearing if we can all make that happen.”
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