"I wanted to start a dialogue," Johnston mayor apologizes after controversial post

JOHNSTON, S.C. (WJBF) - Johnston residents are making their opinions known after a post shared by the mayor that some viewed as insensitive.  

A picture was originally shared by Mayor Terrance Culbreath on his mayor social media page, Sunday.  The post quickly drew outrage. 

"It wasn't about anti-police, it wasn't about racism, " Mayor Culbreath said.

It has since been removed but not before screenshots were taken and then shared across the community. 

"It was about media and media diet and we were having a great dialogue on Facebook until about an hour in, some folks jumped in and started pulling it apart, " Mayor Mayor Culbreath told NewsChannel 6's Shawn Cabbagestalk.  

He has been on the job since 2014 being re-elected for a second term earlier this year. 

He says he cares deeply for the community he grew up in even helping to find ways to transform the town by added updated street signs, owning the rights to the slogan "Peach Capital of the World," and even something one may think is simple - official business cards. "We didn't even have official business cards," Culbreath recalled.

But Culbreath says he was concerned when some in the community painted him as racist.

"That just blows my mind that some would say that about me," he points out, after constantly listening to the community in an effort to help unify it. 

Culbreath explained, "It was a conversation that was being had about media and media diet.  I have friends who lets say are 36-37 who may be white and friends who are 36-37 who may be black and we are seeing two different streams of media. And I said we are kinda being controlled in the middle. It was to start a dialogue."

The Mayor also attended several graduations for local police - a call he had to make.

"That was one of the first calls I made when people started saying I called my chief, I called the lt., I reached out to some of my other officers and they were like 'Mister mayor, we know you and we know your heart ...C'mon you just came back from DC celebrating with officers."

I spoke with many people in the community, most of whom decided not to be on camera. But the response was mixed. Some saying mistakes happen while others said that he has a non partisan job and should leave his opinions out.

When asked "What is your biggest takeaway from this overall experience?," Culbreath said "My biggest takeaway is recognizing that I may not take myself as seriously as others do. But I serve in a position of leadership and I thought we could have a conversation and I was wrong.

When speaking with the mayor today he says working with the police department, public works, and the community are is top priorities. He saying he's always open to suggestions.

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