Piedmont Mayor Jeff Wieler announced Sunday that he would be stepping down from the job following an outcry last week over several Facebook posts that showed him to be less than enlightened on subjects ranging from trans people to Black Lives Matter. Wieler took on the mostly ceremonial role of mayor in the wealthy East Bay township last fall, and as the Associated Press reports, he announced his resignation in an apology letter to the city council where he says he will remain until his current term expires.
The move came a day before what was sure to be a contentious meeting of the council with a vote of no confidence for Wieler.
If that seems confusing, it's because the job of mayor in Piedmont does not come with a salary or any official duties beyond running public hearings, and is more akin to being the president of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco. It's a position appointed by the council, typically to the member of the council with the most seniority. He remains a member of the city council, and his position as mayor will now be taken over by Vice Mayor Bob McBain, as the Chronicle reports.
Wieler said in his letter, "After a quarter century of volunteering for Piedmont in various roles, I regret the impact this has had upon the city I love and the men and women in the staff who do such a fine job for our citizens."
In a separate statement, according to the Chronicle, Wieler said, "We have a president who has coarsened the national dialogue and made many people feel insulted. No matter what you think of his policies and programs, this is a reality that I and many other Republicans are coming to acknowledge." He added, "I apologize deeply for the pain I’ve caused. Going forward, I will restrict my Facebook posts to pictures of our pets and vacation pictures. Fortunately, I’ve never tweeted!"
Wieler's previous Facebook posts, about which he was called to task at a public meeting last week, included the phrases, "Black Lives Matter encourages cop killing," ''Democrats are the plantation slave masters of today," and "Transgenders [sic] are mentally ill."
As many on the right have come under attack in recent weeks, Wieler was sure to add in his apology statement, "I want to make clear I loathe and despise white supremacists, neo-Nazis and racists."
Councilwoman Jen Cavenaugh told the Chronicle, "Our community has been really clear that this is not reflective of who we are and what we value." She went further, though, to imply Wieler should probably relinquish his role on the council, since councilmembers don't have the power to remove other councilmembers.
City Administrator Paul Benoit told the East Bay Times that under the city charter, Wieler's actions do not warrant removal from the council, and his current term ends in November 2018.
Piedmont, a town of 11,353 residents that is surrounded completely by Oakland, maintains its own school district and 28-person police department.