ARLINGTON, Texas -- What was already a heated election in Arlington may have gotten even more contentious overnight, thanks to a 19-minute recording of Mayor Jeff Williams that went public.
The group that released the recording indicated he was speaking about voters who are against the proposal to financially back a new $1 billion Texas Rangers ballpark.
"The CAVES. The 'citizens against virtually everything.' They’re mad. They don’t want anything happening. You wouldn’t leave your kids with them to babysit them," Williams says in the recording.
The recording is of Williams speaking at a private meeting last Friday.
"Then you go to the polls right now, and you see it, these people don’t have jobs, they’re mad, I don’t know how effective they’re being," Williams can be heard saying in the recording.
But Williams responded to News 8, saying he was not speaking about all no-voters.
"As a matter of fact, it was very directed at a small group of people, seven to 10 people I was talking about, who have bullied our people at the polls, who’ve mistreated our citizens and also given misleading information," Williams said Tuesday.
The mayor said he's frustrated by what he's seen this election season, including some spray-painted signs he showed us that he says were left on a yes-vote campaign worker's doorstep. One of the messages said "Go 2 Hell."
He said what you don't hear in the recordings was the discussion leading up to the comments.
"If you put it into context, the discussion was about what was happening in the polls with this small group of people and the way they were treating our citizens," Williams said.
Voters on both sides say they were disappointed by the remarks.
"That’s something he said in private and it probably wasn’t the right thing to do," said Austin Plumlee, who said the comments wouldn't sway his vote in favor of the ballpark.
"I don’t have a lot of respect for anybody to make that kind of a statement," said Morris Wallis, who voted against the new ballpark.
We asked Williams what he would say to people who believe he shouldn't be talking about any voters in the manner he did.
"Without a doubt, that’s not the case at all," he said.
"I’m definitely sorry that happened and that private conversation went out because that’s not who I am,” he added.