Gillette mayor apologizes for ‘disrespectful’ text messages

GILLETTE — Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King has apologized after text messages between her and a former city administrator were released, many of which showed the mayor talking disrespectfully about other council members.

On Dec. 31, the City Council and the city clerk received an email from former city administrator Patrick Davidson, Carter-King said. The email included thousands of text messages between the mayor and Davidson from the end of November 2019 through June 2020.

Current city administrator Hyun Kim said he could confirm that this email did come from Davidson.

In all, 416 pages of the messages were included.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday, Carter-King apologized, saying the texts were “disparaging and disrespectful” to City Council members and other public officials.

“I sincerely apologize for any pain or embarrassment that I have caused to my fellow council members, especially Councilman (Shay) Lundvall,” she said. “And to the other members of the public that I insulted, my responsibility is to represent the best interest of the city of Gillette and this City Council, and I have let you all down. I am truly sorry for my actions.”

Later Tuesday night, an unredacted copy of the texts and screenshots were posted to the city’s website. They were the same texts that Davidson had included in his email to the City Council.

Lundvall said he and Carter-King had “some very stark conversations” after the email. Much of what she said about him was “hurtful,” but “I want this council to know, we are going to move forward,” he said.

“Because I was forgiven, I forgive you,” he told Carter-King.

In June 2020, Lundvall was asked by the rest of the council members to resign from the City Council after it was learned that he had liked a number of sexist and offensive Facebook posts.

He stepped down, but he was reelected to the City Council later in 2020.

Tuesday, Lundvall said the controversy is the work of one person who is trying to ruin what the city has built over the last five months.

“You can still win championships with disagreements,” Lundvall said. “It’s never going to be easy, but I’m confident that this council is going to continue to pull together.”

Davidson was city administrator from December 2017 through February 2021, when the city announced that he was no longer with the city administrator.

No reason was given for his departure.

Along with the texts, Davidson provided a two-paragraph explanation. He recently updated his phone and found files "which may be of interest to you," he wrote to the council members. "I think you will find them insightful as they contain her unfiltered thoughts regarding members of the Council and the public.

"You will find a variety of topics such as mocking Tim (Carsrud) and his religious beliefs, implying that Shay (Lundvall) lacks intelligence, that Billy (Montgomery) is a follower that can be manipulated to meet her will, and other interesting beliefs and comments," adding that, "it should be a good read.”

The texts end June 28, 2020, and provide no hint as to why Davidson was removed from his job six months later. In the texts, Carter-King frequently compliments him on the job he has done, and that many of her comments about people and events are simply "venting."

It is clear from the texts that Lundvall was not Carter-King's favorite council member long before he "liked" offensive posts Bob Vomhoff of Gillette posted on Facebook in June  2020 mocking a city employee and that could be interpreted as supporting vigilante justice.

For example, on March 27, 2020, as they were dealing with the fast-moving changes of shutting down government offices and businesses as the pandemic hit, Davidson reported that he'd spent almost an hour on the phone with Lundvall.

"What does he want?" Carter-King responded. "Just to be relevant?"

Later, she added that he had been "punished" by having to talk to Lundvall.

On April 8, 2020, they were talking about an ongoing dilemma with fire department funding, a conversation that went on for several minutes.

"Shay called and wants called back too," Davidson told her.

"I have no words of solace for you," she replied.

An hour later, she asked Davidson a question.

"What did Shay want, Drivel?" she asked.

"He wanted to do something nice for cops like buy them coffee," Davidson responded.

"Oh lord," Carter-King responded. "Him or city?"

"Him - personal," Davidson replied.

"Tell him city will buy them coffee and take it out of his check," she replied.

Later that night after a contentious fire department meeting in which Carter-King criticized Lundvall's comments, she texted that "Shay is such a bumbling idiot."

The next morning, she added that "Shay is such a blathering baffoon. He is so scared of losing the fire department vote I guess."

Other council members also were criticized but not as frequently.

The "disparaging" and "disrespectful" comments weren't limited to the City Council. Carter-King's ire also was directed at other current and former public officials, including county commissioners, agency directors, appointed public officials and even attorneys and private citizens.