• Mike Burkons

This is what happened last year. I was wrong and I apologize.

Last year, before I was elected to Council, I was very close with Jillian DeLong and her husband when she decided to run for school board. The election became very heated and at some point, Jillian and her husband took positions that were at best close minded. I attempted to convince them to go a different route, but they continued on their path, which was hurtful to many members of our community.

Things came to a head last October when her husband wrote a Letter to the Editor Published by CJN, reopening old wounds and bringing back up a painful and divisive issue from earlier in that year surrounding allegations of recruiting violations about minority families with kids on the football team who had recently moved to the Beachwood School district. In short, Jillian's husband thought it was important to let readers know that his wife's opponent supported and didn’t have any issue with the dozen or so African American families with kids on the football team, that recently moved into the Beachwood schools, as if this was something that should be viewed negatively.

I had gotten to know many of these kids as they all took an interest in my 8 year-old son when he was the water boy for the football team during summer practices. Many would come over to our house to eat pizza, play touch football with Jack and his friends and these high school kids treated my 2nd grader like a big deal every time they saw him.

Five days before the CJN letter was published, Jillian and her husband told me their intent to bring this issue up again with the hope of getting media coverage. I made it clear how bad of an idea this was, how it would make them look terrible and how hurtful it would be to these families. I thought after our conversation they decided against doing this but a few days later the letter to the editor was published.

I was furious when it was published, as were many in the community, and I regret the way I reacted to this anger. Instead of writing an anonymous letter in the voice of one of these families and expressing how hurt and unwelcome I believed they must feel upon reading a public letter like this written by the husband of a school board candidate, I should have written the letter under my own name saying the same thing. I didn’t do that which I regret.

I apologized to Mrs. Delong last year over this incident but she chose not to accept it which I understand. While I believed she had agreed it was best to leave this and other matters in our past, allowing this issue to remain unknown to most residents, she decided to rehash this issue publicly from the previous year, which she has every right to do if she chooses.

While I respect her decision to do this, I hope at some point Jillian realizes her anxiety over this incident, isn’t because of the unsigned letter I wrote, which I regret (the letter I wrote is below my signature). Instead it is from her and her husband's decision to submit the letter to the editor which was hurtful and viewed negatively by so many in the community. I regret the way I reacted to my anger over Delong's husband's letter to the editor. It was wrong, I wish I could take it back but can't. I have apologized and moved on.

Mike Burkons

Below is the unsigned emailed I sent to 11 people after the CJN Letter to the Editor written by Delong's husband was published on October 17, 2019. I regret writing this email in the voice of one of the parents of one of the families that had recently moved into Beachwood with a kid on the football team. I should written the same letter, saying the same things in voice with my name signed at the bottom.

Mrs. DeLong, I am offended by the nasty Letter to the Editor your husband wrote attacking the character of one of your opponent's and her son. More specifically can you explain what you and your husband believe is so terrible about the things Bennett Adelson has done for my family and so many other families like ours? Are you upset he has used his self made wealth from his business success to buy rentals to help underprivileged and disadvantaged minority families move into Beachwood to take advantage of the better schools and opportunities? Would you be just as upset if the people who benefitted from this were underprivileged Jewish kids helping their families move here so they could play in the school orchestra instead of minorities who play sports? My kids are much more than just athletes and the one on the football team rarely steps on the field. The school administration’s own investigation and the State Athletic Association concluded no rules were broken. Our school board members agreed and reversed the decision to get rid of the coach. No rules or laws were broken so please explain why you have a problem that someone is using their wealth to help financially challenged minority families move into Beachwood to take advantage of the opportunities and the schools your kids enjoy. Your actions and attitude along with your husband, the rest of the school board and the school administration send a clear message that my family isn't wanted or welcome here. It is offensive to watch all of you pretend to care about diversity or that “diversity matters” when the school leadership doesn't make an effort to hide their disdain for our presence. The letter your husband wrote shows this. How do you think this makes my kids and other kids from families like ours feel? I hope my kids aren't paying attention to this stuff because they would be heartbroken to know of this attitude from the school leadership.

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Paid for by Friends of Mike Burkons, Dr. David Burkons, Treasurer, 2466 Richmond Road, Beachwood, Ohio 44122