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Controversial comments by Outagamie County supervisor spark concerns in the Fox Valley

Outagamie Board meeting protest
Posted at 8:25 PM, May 26, 2023

APPLETON (NBC 26) — Some of the Fox Valley community is concerned after controversial comments were made by Outagamie County Supervisor Timothy Hermes after a presentation by the county's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) officer, Major Cooper. The comments, which some are calling transphobic, have ignited a debate and prompted protests from citizens demanding action.

“We accept nothing less than his removal from this board,” said Jay Gibbs, a protestor at Tuesday’s meeting.

The comments were made during a meeting on May 9th, where Supervisor Hermes expressed his concerns regarding gender and restrooms. The audio recording obtained from the meeting reveals his statements.

"To me, a man putting on a dress and putting on a woman's face is the same as blackface in the 1920s,” said Timothy Hermes, an Outagamie County supervisor. "A man in a dress with a woman's face on going into the bathroom by a little girl or trying to change in their dressing rooms, I find that disgusting."

In an attempt to address the situation, Major Cooper responded.

"And what if it was our family member, we would want the rights for them as well,” said Major Cooper.

"I would have to go get counseling is what I would do,” said Hermes.

Supervisor Steve Thiede criticized Hermes for his unprompted and unnecessary comments.

“It was unprompted. It was unnecessary, he was trying to light a fire and he did,” said Thiede.

Thiede expressed his solidarity with those who found the remarks offensive and said that the issue had disrupted other county businesses.

Protesters gathered outside and inside Tuesday's board meeting, voicing their disapproval of Supervisor Hermes' comments and demanding his removal.

Though not all protestors there were against Hermes, Supervisor Thiede told NBC 26 the options available to those upset by Hermes' remarks.

"There is the ballot box next April so the voters can vote him out or they can do a recall election, by Wisconsin statute right now,” said Thiede.

Despite attempts to contact Supervisor Hermes for comment, including knocking on his door and leaving multiple voicemails, he has not responded.

Supervisor Thiede told us that a resolution addressing the issue would be presented in the coming weeks, providing an opportunity for public comment. The next county board meeting is scheduled for June 6th.