DERRY — A Republican state representative candidate has called for a sitting town councilor to step down, citing alleged ethics violations and bad behavior with the way she said she was treated through email exchanges and other communication.
At a council meeting Oct. 20, Anne Copp called for Councilor Jim Morgan's resignation, accusing him of bullying remarks and cruel statements, denouncing her and her state representative campaign for taking a conservative stance involving LGBTQ rights.
Copp is running among a list of 21 candidates hoping to win one of 10 seats to represent Derry's District 6.
"My goal here is to let the folks on this board know that one of their numbers has been unprofessional, cruel and using his posture on the board as a bully," Copp said during the meeting's public forum.
She urged councilors to study their own ethics rules and the town charter.
Copp's concerns also included alleged slander and public threats against her from Morgan, through emails and other social media.
During the September primary, Copp said she and seven other Derry candidates joined forces to run as the “Slate of Eight.” Copp said the group bought ad space on a local digital billboard that suddenly went dark days before the September primary election, saying that also may have been due to possible meddling from those opposing her views.
Copp also accused Morgan of degrading her character during his local cable television program, "People in Politics," where Copp said Morgan openly spoke out about her, using what she called bullying tactics to "berate the Slate of Eight" list of candidates and what they stood for, including Copp's support of primary gubernatorial candidate Karen Testerman, a Republican conservative with anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage views.
Then an exchange of text messages began, according to Copp.
She read one of Morgan’s texts to the board, calling it threatening.
“Anne, we are not friends, we are not text buddies, and I find your childish messages just silly. I’m a gay married man and you supported a radical bigot for governor," the text read. "By doing so, you spit on my life, my marriage and my children’s stepdad ... And do yourself a favor and start playing on a team, you might have more friends. I advocated for the GOP to embrace your race and to work together. I know who my enemies are. Do you?”
She said Morgan's behavior was outrageous.
"I'd like this board to take this under review and ask Jim Morgan to step down for cause," Copp said.
For Morgan, it went too far.
It's all about being the "voice of reason for the people of Derry," he said, adding the town has LGBTQ employees who deserve to be respected and supported and to make sure their rights are protected as well.
"I will not support anybody I believe does not support that we all have equal rights," Morgan said. "When they sit on our boards and commissions, they are tasked with making decisions."
Morgan added that decisions should never be allowed to be made based on one's sexual orientation or "who they love or who they wish to marry."
Morgan serves as chairman of the group Log Cabin Republicans, a group that works to thwart "bigoted Republicans" from running for and being elected to office. It's the group's premise, he added, to shine light on those candidates for views he feels are less than inclusive or accepting.
He said his job is to protect the community and that is what he will continue to do.
"I will not be punched down because I'm a gay, married man," Morgan said. "I will not be attacked because I stand on my principles. I will also never act on behalf of this council in a demeaning or degrading way or unprofessional way. My text messages weren't threatening. They were direct."
Morgan called Copp's messages to him insulting to his family, citing one phrase where Copp told Morgan to "crawl out from under my skirt."
Morgan also defended the content of his cable program, citing his right to free public speech outside the council chamber. He referenced two former town councilors, Janet Fairbanks and Kevin Coyle, who hosted their own political program on local cable television and it was their right, Morgan said, to do so.
The councilor reiterated he would not step down.
“What a demeaning, degrading, unprofessional tactic, to say to a sitting two-term town councilor, who she now comes to ask to resign,” Morgan said. “Well, Anne Copp, I am not going to resign.”