NewsLocal News


Voters call for candidate to drop out of race over racist email

Posted at 7:42 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 19:42:33-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — After Fox 4’s story aired about a local candidate’s racist comments, we received several calls from people saying they’ve heard Sonny Haas say the N-word out loud.

There’s one thing local NAACP President James Muwalkkil wants Sonny Haas to do with his campaign for Lee County Commissioner.

“Drop out. Because nobody should be giving him our vote,” said Muwalkkil.

Last week Fox 4’s Rachel Loyd interviewed the candidate about using the N-word in a recent email to a voter. He said he was repeating someone in the email. But he refused to reveal who he was quoting.

Rachel: When I asked you before, who said that that you were repeating. When you said the movers and shakers, is there a particular group?

Sonny: Let’s just say - let’s just say contributors and leave it at that.

During the Fort Myers protest demanding justice for George Floyd Monday, Muwalkkil said Haas wasn’t repeating anyone at all, and the email reveals his character.

“He used the N-word in front of me,” he said. “That’s who you are when ain’t nobody else looking.”

Haas also wrote “Cubans are colonizing Lehigh,” something that upset Lee County voter Yajaida Aristhyl.

“When I’m looking for people to represent my community, to represent my culture…This community is a melting pot,” she said. “There’s a lot of us out here. I don’t want people like that representing me.”

Pastor Juan Gonzalez is also running for Lee County Commissioner and recognized the mosaic of cultures in Lehigh Acres.

“Cubans are not the only ethnic group that live and exist in this community,” he said. “We have Puerto Ricans, Columbians. We have African Americans. We have African Caribbean. We have Germans. We have a multi-cultural community.”

Haas has apologized for the email, and Gonzalez said he forgives him.

“I forgive people who are like that, because they don’t know any better,” he said.

Gonzalez calls this a teachable moment. He invites Haas to have a cup of coffee with him and have a conversation about the words he wrote in the email.