Homophobic Text Messages from Alpena County Sheriff Candidate Surface

King texted a picture of two men holding hands and  "where is my gun?" and later responds “bang bang.”

Homophobic text messages have surfaced from an Alpena County Sheriff candidate.

A recent Freedom of Information Request, posted online, revealed homophobic text messages sent from Alpena County Sheriff candidate Terry King’s county issued phone in October 2013. 07 22 2020 Alpena Text Scandal Pkg 6

In the messages, a family member asks him “where the heck are you??? Homoland?”

King responds with a picture of two men holding hands and  “where is my gun?”

The family member responds “they kiss and stuff! Ew.”

King then responds “bang bang.”

Northern Michigan’s News Leader reached out to King for a response, but he didn’t return our calls. We also stopped at his campaign office but no one answered the door.

King did post a video on Facebook.

“My opponent in this upcoming election for Alpena County Sheriff has decided to play dirty politics,” King said in the video posted to Facebook. “While he denies direct responsibility for the information being provided, I do know the information is coming from a current deputy’s household.”

“I was surprised by them, surprised and disappointed at the same time,” said King’s opponent and current Sheriff Steven Kieliszewski.

“I don’t know how it can be dirty politics when the truth is out there,” Kieliszewski.said. “It’s not something that was released by me as the sheriff, it was released by someone else.”

He says the FOIA request came from a citizen with connections to his department, but it doesn’t change his responsibility to respond.

“When someone FOIAs the information and gets it out there, what they do with it at that point in time I have no control over,” Kieliszewski said.

These texts happened during King’s time at the sheriff’s department. If they had surfaced then…

“I would have taken it very seriously,” Kieliszewski said. “As the sheriff we have a huge responsibility, we have the responsibility of protecting the community and that means everybody in the community.”

We reached out to Alpena Community College’s LGBTQ group ACC Takes Pride for reaction on the text messages.

“As a local LGBTQ+ ally and advocate I was very disappointed to see the comments Terry King made. It is alarming that someone in a position of power would hold that attitude in the 21st century. I also found it worrisome that the texts were with his daughter, which told me it was part of a value system and not a one-time comment,” said advisor Shawn Sexton in a statement. “With that said, Terry needs some credit for owning his comments, apologizing for them and doing what he can to make things right.  He has met with our group and other LGBTQ+ allies and he attended the Pride March in Alpena. I do not approve of his comments but am encouraged by his efforts to own them and do better.”

Voters get their chance to weigh in on August 4.

Categories: Election 2020