As President of the Republicans of Kent (ROK) and a former trial judge in Philadelphia for sixteen years, I was quite surprised to read your article on the alleged “incident” at the Farmers Market last Saturday. Surprised because no one from your publication contacted me or anyone from the ROK before posting an article about us and by implication, me, without seeking our version of the events. I thought basic journalistic ethics and fairness required as much. However, the damage is done.
Thus, we are providing our explanation of how things came about. First, the banner was indeed inappropriate for the event. We didn’t know we had been approved for the Market until Friday night so while gathering supplies up quickly, it was included inadvertently in the tent supplies. The offending language was immediately covered up after a market goer complained, which was not reported.
The Kent County Republican Central Committee (KCRCC) and the ROK are separate entities but we do work together. Neither organization received any Market rules and we were unaware that face masks were a Market requirement, although the workers felt they were observing social distancing. The Market Manager, Julie King, said she approached the booth because of some workers not wearing masks and spoke to a by-stander seated on the curb at the rear of the tent. Apparently the conversation became somewhat argumentative. We do regret that happened. This person was not associated with the KCRCC or the ROK. If the Market Manager had asked who was in charge and had spoken to either group’s president that was there, they would have complied. Neither of them were aware of her presence or this argumentative discussion. Julie King’s statement in the Kent Pilot’s article that booth workers would not comply and began yelling at her and that the ROK was THEN expelled from participation in the Market is totally false! No one from either group engaged in a shouting match with her. The notification that the clubs were no longer welcome at the Market came the following day after the incident, not at the time of the incident. Please know that the KCRCC and the ROK will be in compliance with mask wearing at our headquarters in the future.
It was also mentioned in the article that we were selling merchandise which could not be sold under a registration category of non-profits. We don’t disagree. Again, we never received a copy of the Market rules so we’re not aware of this.
We appreciate Mayor Chris Cerino’s having to allow us to represent our party. No political party will be represented in the Farmers Market in the future we suspect not just because of this incident but because of a history of contention between the two parties as mentioned in the article.
Again, we are regretful of what occurred at the Farmers Market last weekend and hope to put this behind us, moving forward with a mutually respectful coexistence with our neighboring Party’s headquarters staff.
Gary Di Vito