Maryland Town's First Black Mayor Says Racist Attacks, Bullying Are Not Reason for Resigning

Upper Marlboro Mayor Tonga Turner announced her resignation after less than two years in office

The mayor of a Maryland town clarified Wednesday that she is resigning in order to spend more time with her family and said the racist attacks and bullying she has experienced are not her reasons for stepping down. 

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Tonga Turner said she did not intend to suggest the racist attacks are the reason she is resigning.

“It was never my intention to give the public the impression that I am being pushed out or scared into leaving my role,” Turner said. “No one of any color, of any race or any ethnicity is ever going to scare me into doing anything.”

Even though she said she had thought about resigning for several months, it wasn’t until a time she came home and realized she’d missed her 3-year-old son’s preschool graduation due to work that she knew her decision was final.

“I said to myself, am I truly ready to make that sacrifice? Am I truly ready to deal with the repercussions of that from this day and many years to come?” Turner said. “The answer to that was no.”

Turner emphasized that while the racial challenges were present, they didn’t shape her decision to step down in any way.

“Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Is it easy for black mayors across America? Probably not,” Turner said. “But it is not my job to make sure that that story is cast across America. It’s my job to protect the essence of my community.”

She said the struggles that women face on a daily basis often goes unnoticed, and the media failed to acknowledge the disheartening sacrifices for someone who was not only an elected official, but also a mom, a wife and a professional.

“I chose family over service, and I am proud of that and I will continue to be proud of that,” Turner said. “We need to continue to move forward in growing our community and allowing people like me who choose their family over everything else not to be penalized or marginalized or sensationalized because of that decision.”

Turner had said earlier this week that she had experienced alarming incidents including having her tires slashed and having a former town commissioner doodle swastikas during a town meeting.

"It is no secret that the Town of Upper Marlboro has been plagued with a dark history and past, but my hope is that in the past two years under my leadership, each of you has seen the great promise for our future," Turner wrote in her resignation letter.

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