One year ago, life was pretty good for Worth’s Mary Werner.
— ANALYSIS —
She experienced the elation of winning an election over an incumbent for mayor on April 9 and made history for being voted in as the first female mayor in the village. She was experiencing the excitement and anticipation of officially taking over and being sworn in on May 6.
Fast forward to today.
Werner is in the middle of a red-hot controversy regarding last November’s death of teenager Brittany Wawrzyniak. On Tuesday Wawrzyniak’s family and friends verbally attacked her for the second village board meeting in a row.
Last year at this time, Werner was getting ready to raise her right hand and take an oath to be sworn in as mayor. On Tuesday night, Rebecca Tully, Wawryzniak’s mother, was reading the oath back to Werner and calling the mayor out for what Tully thinks is not living up to that oath. And there has been some swearing from Brittany supporters toward the mayor the past two meetings.
At question is the way the police and village have handled the situation since the day the teenager died after either jumping or being pushed out of a car. Wawryzniak’s family and friends maintain they were lied to and not treated with respect. They also want answers. Village and police officials said they would not share details of the case until the investigation is complete and that could be for another eight to 10 months, Werner said.
More than 200 people showed up at an April 1 meeting that was held at the gym at the village’s Terrace Centre in anticipation of a big crowd and some shouted vulgarities and insults at the mayor. There were about 75 people in attendance on Tuesday with more out in the hallway at crowded Village Hall. The public comments were moved until after the business part of the meeting, a departure from the past where the comments were heard first.
This meeting was more civil than the first but there was plenty of hostility and cursing present because family members presented tweets allegedly made by Werner’s relatiive against the family and Werner was quoted on a website in a story that came out Tuesday morning with comments that infuriated Brittney’s supporters. Werner was quoted as calling Brittany a “co-conspirator” in an alleged fight that was supposed to take place on the night the teen died.
Shortly after the April 1 board meeting, an arrest was made of a teen involved in the potential fight and family members said it was done to appease them after the fiery meeting.
Werner was quoted by the website as saying “I know [Brittany’s supporters] want to take credit for the arrest and that’s fine. But they need to deal with their own grieving. This is not helpful.”
Most of the audience members’ wrath during the 20-minute public comment session Tuesday centered around quotes that appeared in that story.
“That doesn’t mean I said it,” Werner said after the meeting.
When asked if she was misquoted, she said “absolutely.”
Curiously, there were no representatives from that website present at the meeting. But that story, and others that have appeared in regular and social media outlets, have soured Werner’s relationship with reporters.
“Trust me, I am never going to make another comment to the press about anything” she said. “My words have been twisted around.’’
And her first year as mayor is spinning around in recent months after a relatively quiet beginning.
She said she was told that Brittany’s supporters would attend every meeting until the investigation is complete, which is close to a year down the road. Time will tell if each meeting will be as combative as the first two or if some of the furor will die down.
Werner publically has her police force’s backs and that will continue to anger people in Brittany’s camp.
The next few months will be interesting.
In mid-April 2013, all was good for Werner. In mid-April 2014, things have been rough.
What will the temperature be like in mid-April 2015?