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Paducah City Commission ‘weighing its options’ with commissioner after racially charged text

Paducah City Hall
Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau
Paducah City Hall

The Paducah City Commission is deciding the fate of a member after a racially charged text to a city employee was brought before it Wednesday night.

After a more than two-hour closed executive session, Paducah Mayor George Bray read a statement regarding the actions of commissioner David Guess, who he said sent a series of text messages to a city employee on Nov. 8 after city employees removed political signs from civic property in violation of a Paducah ordinance. Some of the signs were advertising Dujuan Thomas, an African-American candidate for city commissioner.

The text exchange showed Guess making the statements “You got dujan [sic] under control” and “Whitey keeping a black man down.”

City of Paducah

Bray said the commission believes “any sort of language with racial overtones … has no place in our society.” He also pointed to minority inclusion as a commission priority over the past two years, the attendance of diversity, equity and inclusion training by all city commissioners and the commission’s partnering with citizens to establish the Paducah Diversity Advocacy Board.

Thomas responded to the commissioner’s text messages in a post on his personal Facebook account: “During my campaign I showed him and all of the candidates respect, but it goes to show, some people can only see one thing. YOUR COLOR! You never know who's colluding behind closed doors, but everything always comes to light!”

Guess, who was reelected to the commission in November, also made a statement on social media. He said the Election Day text was sent “in a flippant moment” and he won’t let that stop him from fulfilling his duties as commissioner.

“I am not a public speaker, I’m a normal working person just like most everyone else in the city. Anyone who has never said or texted something they immediately regretted can throw the first stone. I challenge anyone to find something in my everyday life that shows this one moment as a reflection of how I conduct myself every day,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “In today’s world, my quick/foolish remark … was how I sadly thought it could be viewed by the world AND WAS NOT MY PERSONAL OPINION.”

The commission, Bray said, is “weighing its options” in regards to Guess, including possible dismissal or public censure.

The commission will take the matter up at its next meeting on Dec. 15.

The meeting can be streamed in its entirety on the Paducah City Commission's YouTube page.

A native of western Kentucky, Operle earned his bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Operle spent five years working for Paxton Media/The Paducah Sun as a reporter and editor. In addition to his work in the news industry, Operle is a passionate movie lover and concertgoer.
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