East Bay city official could be ousted after suggesting COVID-19 be allowed to weed out elderly, weak, sick

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- The Antioch City Council will meet in special session Friday night to vote on whether to remove a town official over a controversial Facebook post related to the novel coronavirus.

In the post, Kenneth Turnage, chair of the city's planning commission, suggested that COVID-19 be allowed to weed out the elderly, weak and sick to the benefit of society.

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"I guess I am now formerly the chairperson of the Antioch Planning Commission," Turnage told ABC7 news in a Facetime interview.

But he's jumping the gun a bit. Turnage was notified Thursday that the city council will vote Friday night on removing him from the post.

"I didn't really think so many people would be so offended by an opinion," he said.

But, that opinion posted a week ago suggests that COVID-19 could be nature's way of weeding out the old, sick and weak and that could actually be beneficial to the economy, to the health care system, to society as a whole.

The Facebook post has since been deleted.

Eric Thomas: "You didn't think people would be calling for your head afterward?"
Kenneth Turnage: "Not my head, no and I got my first death threat today, so I guess I made the big-time."

"I saw it and I was very appalled and I thought this is somebody who represents Antioch," said Monica Wilson, a City Council member who is leading the charge to remove Turnage from his position.

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"I asked for the resignation. I asked for the removal and then it went to the mayor. He's had every opportunity to say I'm sorry," she said.

Turnage says he's only sorry that his words became a lightning rod for controversy instead of a starting point for discussion. But he doesn't regret putting the idea out there.

"People took what I wrote and they are reading more into it than what I exactly said," according to Turnage.

The city council meets in a special session Friday at seven to decide if Turnage's words will cost him his job.

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