Parma, Missouri, is a small town of roughly 713 people. Last week the town swore in Tyrus Byrd as the first Black mayor. The former city clerk beat the incumbent mayor of 37 years in a tight race separated by just 38 votes. But what should have been the start of a fresh and historic new administration has now been met by controversy. The town is approximately 70 percent White and 28 percent Black with an unemployment rate of close to 7.5 percent and is considered 100 percent rural. Last week the small town was rocked by a series of sudden resignations after the mayor was sworn into office.
Apparently the city attorney, city clerk and waste water treatment plant supervisor all resigned. But it did not stop there; the town’s police force of six officers has been decimated by the resignation of five officers. All of the people who resigned turned in letters stating “safety concerns” as the reason for leaving. This is odd since Parma has a very low crime rate. In the past 13 years there has only been one murder and despite a few burglaries and car thefts, the city of Parma is the epitome of a sleepy rural town.
For her part, new Mayor Tyrus Byrd stated last week that she was initially unaware of the situation and the “safety concerns” stated in the resignation letters. Mayor Byrd will issue no further statement at this time on the resignations other than saying she could not locate the letters when she took office. What no one is saying is that all of the people who resigned were White officials and that race may be a factor in the resignations.