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Some constituents say they're hurt by Andreotta's Facebook on public aid

Some Henderson County residents said Thursday they were hurt and outraged this week when they learned a Henderson County commissioner shared a Facebook post they say insulted both black and poor people.

  The post shared by Commissioner Daniel Andreotta shows two photographs. The first black and white photograph shows black people standing on the porch of an old home and the words “two ways to make a slave” at the top and the words “work him without pay” at the bottom. The second photograph shown below the first is in color and includes homes that appear in disrepair with the words “or pay him without work.” The post was first reported by WLOS Ch. 13 news on Wednesday.

 Hendersonville resident Crystal Cauley, who is a descendant of slaves, said she learned about the post from someone who sent it to her and asked what she thought.

  “I was hurt,” Cauley said. “But my reaction besides being hurt, I was thinking, ‘What was he thinking? Is he thinking low-income people are lazy? That is a stereotype that is put on low-income people.”

  Cauley said she thought Andreotta and the remainder of the all-white Board of Commissioners would benefit from diversity training.

  “This is coming from a white man who does not come from ancestors who were enslaved. He can’t relate to the perspective at the top or bottom,” she said referring to the two photographs in the post.

Fletcher resident Gayle Kemp, a Democratic activist and candidate for the state House in 2018, described Andreotta’s post as disturbing and called for his resignation from the board. She said she plans to address the issue during the next meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.

  “I think any time anybody makes any remarks that are positive toward slavery or enslaved persons that is disturbing,” she said. “It is outrageous to me. I’m calling for his resignation. I’m going to demand it when I go to the meeting.”

  She said she also thinks the meme Andreotta shared implies that black people are lazy.

  “I’m not going to let this go,” she said.

  Andreotta responded to a call from the Lightning requesting comment on the issue Thursday with a text message.

  In the text, Andreotta said he did not mean to offend anyone with the post and only wanted to address a culture of dependency in America.

 “The message of opportunity and accomplishment for anyone is something I believe in very strongly,” he said. “However, it seems more and more people are becoming financially burdened and no doubt for a variety of reasons. It is clear to me that one of those reasons is the fruit of very bad government policies that contribute to a climate and culture of dependence. Evidence of this is displayed when companies are struggling to hire workers at unprecedented starting pay rates.

“In this country anyone can become anything they aspire to be, and they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. But bad policies will dilute initiative, weaken motivation, and rob good people of their full potential.”

  Andreotta apologized that his method of delivering his message about government dependency offended some people.

  “I recently used a method to communicate that message that has offended some in our community. And for that, I do apologize. I am very sorry. I have never set out to offend anyone in any manner. Anyone who knows me at all knows that for a fact. Again, I believe strongly in the message, and I apologize that the method with which I delivered that message on one occasion offended some of my fellow citizens,” Andreotta said in the text message.

  He went on to say he would never intentionally hurt anyone.

  “Humanity at its best is at its best human. Again, those who know me know I would never intentionally offend anyone. Even in marriages there are times of missteps, apologies, and especially forgiveness. So, it should only seem logical those would apply in the public sector as well,” according to the text.

  Andreotta also sent Cauley and email in response to her concerns.

  His message to Cauley also said he did not intend to offend anyone and only wanted to address the culture of dependency.

  “I don’t want to see people of any age, but especially those generations coming behind me imprisoned to a mindset of dependence. This has nothing to do with people who credibly need help and/or are struggling in life. This has to do with people who could and should do better for themselves and their community, but they choose not to,” Andreotta said in the email to Cauley

  Cauley said she felt Andreotta’s email was also judgmental toward poor people. She said she was concerned about his mindset toward low-income people.

  “Maybe one day we can have a conversation,” she said. “Let’s change his mindset.”

The Facebook post triggering negative reaction from some constituents was not the first time Andreotta provoked a response with his remarks or actions. His effort to defund the Flat Rock Playhouse in June triggered a flurry of emails from Playhouse supporters and criticism from his fellow commissioners. His effort to delate the $30,000 economic development grant from the 2022-23 budget failed in a 3-2 vote.