Van Alstyne Mayor Slammed for Remarks About Construction Workers

Mayor says workers "are not the most desirable people that we want in our neighborhood"

By Randy McIlwain
|  Thursday, Feb 21, 2013  |  Updated 6:47 PM CDT
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The mayor of Van Alstyne is under fire for comments made regarding the ethnicity of construction workers building homes in town.

Randy McIlwain, NBC 5 News

The mayor of Van Alstyne is under fire for comments made regarding the ethnicity of construction workers building homes in town.

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The mayor of Van Alstyne is under fire for her remarks during a City Council meeting about the ethnicity of construction workers in her neighborhood.

Mayor Kim DeMasters made the comments during a discussion about construction noise in the Georgetown Heights subdivision at the council's Feb. 12 meeting.

The property was stagnant for years after a developer went bankrupt, but D.R. Horton purchased 102 lots and started building homes in the area.

DeMasters, who lives in the subdivision, said she has heard complaints about workers making noise as late as 10 p.m.

"Construction workers that are in our neighborhood after dark are not the most desirable people that we want in our neighborhood, before dark or after dark," she said "The majority of them do not speak English. The majority of them play their music -- hasn't affected me, but they play their music decibels that are beyond what we should all have to deal with, and they can't understand when we tell them they have to turn it down."

When others at the meeting objected to her statements, DeMasters told them she was just stating "the facts."

Councilman Jim Smith said such words from an elected official during a city meeting send the wrong message to an ethnically diverse community.

"It's not appropriate under any circumstances for an elected official to make that kind of a racist statement about somebody that's trying to help our community grow," he said.

Smith has called for the mayor's resignation.

Workers at the construction site do mostly speak Spanish as their first language but told NBC 5 and Telemundo that they were offended by the mayor's remarks, saying they work hard to build homes for the community.

Smith said the noise controversy wouldn't exist if Van Alstyne had an ordinance that restricts times for construction.

Many cities designate sunup to sundown hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Smith said workers told him when he questioned why they were building so late that they were simply taking advantage of the fact there was no ordinance in place to stop it. They told him they build late so they can work longer, earn more and finish homes sooner.

He said that each home, when occupied, should earn the community up to $3,000 annually in tax revenue, which is good for the community.

DeMasters was not available for an interview Thursday but released a statement apologizing.

"I apologize for sounding as if a particular group was being singled out," she said. "We welcome everyone who wants to live and work here. The council members that prompted this are trying to create a distraction, while I am trying to solve a real problem -- construction noise keeping kids up on school nights."

DeMasters, whose term expires in May, has not indicated if she will step down or if she will run for re-election.

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