Mayor questions Obama’s citizenship; board members split on Schweighart’s resignation

On Thursday at a West Side Park rally for the Tea Party, Champaign Mayor Gerald Schweighart said President Barack Obama was not an American citizen because he could not produce a birth certificate.

“If you are not willing to produce an original birth certificate, then you’ve got something to hide,” Schweighart said in a Youtube video. “If he doesn’t have something to hide, produce it.”

The video, shot by John O’Connor, graduate student in the department of english, has received over 170,000 hits as of April 18.

The mayor declined to comment regarding the statement. But Al Kurtz, Champaign County board member, said he was “flabbergasted” by Schweighart’s comments and ignorance.

“I was struck speechless that his inability to understand the facts of the case and his ignorance to pronounce our president not as American in his opinion was willfully ignorant of the circumstances that surround this controversy,” Kurtz said. “President Obama has proven without a doubt that he is an American Citizen. The state of Hawaii has produced the original birth certificate, which was copied and now sent to Washington. That is a real biased statement that doesn’t show much research or in-depth study of the situation.”

Kurtz said he thinks Schweighart should resign.

“It’s a ridiculous statement to make, and that’s why I felt like he polarized the city with those kinds of bias,” Kurtz said. “I think from this statement, it will make him a very ineffective mayor.”

District 1 City Council Member Will Kyles declined to comment on the video, but said he disagreed with the mayor about Obama’s citizenship.

“He’s our commander in chief and he’s been approved by congress,” Kyles said.

“It’s a non issue,” council member Marci Dodds said. “It started out as a campaign ploy and it’s been settled a long time ago.”

Council Member–At Large Deborah Frank Feinen said she disagrees with Schweighart about concerns of President Obama’s citizenship, but doesn’t think the mayor should resign.

“The mayor’s comment was unfortunate, and the city has worked hard on community building,” Feinen said. “I’m hopeful that this statement doesn’t impact that process.

Council member Marci Dodds agrees, “I respect the mayor greatly but I am somewhat disheartened by his comments.

“However, that was just a dumb comment. If we all get fired for making dumb comments, we’d sure be moving around a lot.”

A full video of the comment made can be found here.

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