Although it was not on the agenda, a surprise vote took place at Tuesday evening’s city council meeting to keep the slogan "A Henry Ford City" on Richmond Hill welcome signs. Council voted unanimously to keep them the way they are.
The motion was brought to the floor by Councilman Russ Carpenter.
Carpenter had the city clerk project a photo of Richmond Hill resident Dick Kent’s sign, which Kent put up on land he owns in Florida. Kent’s sign calls Ford "an anti-Semitic, anti-labor, pro-Nazi bigot," and urges travelers not to stop in Richmond Hill. Carpenter said he is offended by Kent’s sign and is proud of the city’s heritage and what Henry Ford has done for Richmond Hill.
"This goes beyond a marketing strategy on a sign; it is part of our heritage," Carpenter said. "With that, I would like to put this issue to rest. We have much more important issues to address. Therefore, Mr. Mayor, I make the motion that council reaffirms the ‘Henry Ford City’ designation on our two welcome signs, making it explicit that the signs remain unchanged."
The unanimous vote to keep the signs the same was met by applause from many in attendance, which included Richmond Hill resident Bob Fennell and his mother Margaret Judy Fennell, who was Ford’s secretary for many years.
Bob Fennell gave a speech endorsing Ford prior to the vote. Fennell said Ford improved the City of Richmond Hill more than any other individual. He also said Ford was not anti-Semitic because three of his best friends – Harvey Firestone, John Burroughs and Charles Goodyear – were Jewish.
-Read more in Saturday's Bryan County News.