Henry County Board member apologizes for Facebook posts

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CAMBRIDGE, Illinois – A Henry County Board member publicly apologized for the first time for homophobic comments he made on social media during a radio contest.

Jacob Waller made a statement during the Henry County Board meeting on Thursday, March 16 but a large group of people who showed up at the meeting were looking for more.

"It's an embarrassment to the community, to each and every one of us" LGBTQ supporter Sherry Bell said to describe Waller's comments which we first reported in February.

Waller is under fire for attacking a Lesbian couple on social media.  In February, he entered a picture of his family into a "Cutest Couple" contest through a local radio station.  He shared a link to the contest from his personal Facebook page, repeatedly posting attacks on a Lesbian couple also in the contest.

Visibly nervous, Waller addressed his comments for the first time.

"I'd like to apologize for unkind things said about persons who are homosexual and overweight," he said.

But some of the people who came to the meeting say Waller's apology is not enough.

"I do not see how a member of the board can remain unbiased and serve the community making comments like that," said LGBTQ supporter Jeanette Gibson.

But Waller's brother disagrees.

"In the Constitution it says men and women can say what they want to," said Lucas Waller.

And for now, Jacob Waller appears to have said all he want to say.

"From this day forward I hope to return to the work of the board and citizens of Henry County."

The County Board did not take any immediate action against Waller at the Board meeting.  It doesn't appear members will force him from his seat either.

In an email sent to News 8 after the meeting, Board member Shawn Kendall said State's Attorney Matt Schutte stated the board does not have the legal power to remove a member from the board.  Nor is there a process for the people to recall an elected official.  These are both items the public requested and the board and State's Attorney have explored.  

The Board did vote to develop a new policy on Board member conduct and speech.

LGBT supporters gave the Board a list of action items they want the Board to review.  The Board Chairman says the County's Executive Committee will consider the list.

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