Tyrus Byrd, first African-American woman as mayor in Parma, MO.
Voters in Parma, Mo., made history recently when they elected the city’s first African-American woman as mayor. But that feat was overshadowed by the resignations of most of the police force and other officials in response to that election, CBS affiliate KFVS reported.
Tyrus Byrd was sworn in April 14, ending the reign of former Mayor Randall Ramsey, who held the helm of the city of Parma for 37 years during two different terms. He lost the election by 37 votes.
Ramsey told KFVS that five of the city’s six police officers—two full-time and three part-time—resigned without giving notice shortly before Bryd’s swearing in. They were joined by the city’s attorney, the clerk and the waste water treatment plant supervisor, who also turned in resignation letters citing “safety concerns.”
Byrd, a Republican, has said little about the walk-outs beyond the fact that she could not find the resignation letters and that she plans to focus on cleaning up the town. The nearby New Madrid Sheriff’s Department will provide security oversight until new officers are hired.
“Moving forward, I’ll speak with the board and we’ll talk and discuss those issues that taken place today and we’ll try to get things in order for the city,” she told KFVS after her swearing in.
Residents of Parma said they were not concerned about the resignations.
“I think it’s pretty dirty they all quit without giving her a chance,” resident Martha Miller told KFVS. “But I don’t think they hurt the town any by quitting, because who needs six police for 740 people.”
Others even welcomed the departures, saying it created a clean slate for Byrd after years of corruption in City Hall.
“They resigned the minute they found out Randall didn’t get mayor again. They all abandoned the town immediately which shows how much they really cared about the town and its citizens and the real reason they quit is due to something other than ‘safety issues,’” said Wendy Lawrence Stafford, site administrator at the Higgerson School Historic Site, in the comments section on the KFVS website. “Their free ride was just cut off. We have been trying for YEARS to get someone to listen to the citizens about the dealings going on and no one until now wanted to listen. TYUS BYRD WE THANK THE GOOD LORD FOR SENDING YOU TO PARMA. The citizens of Parma are behind you 100% and will work with you to restore OUR town.”
Byrd, a native of Parma, previously served as its city clerk and she also does missionary work.