CASSELBERRY, Fla. – Casselberry vice-mayor and commissioner Mark Busch released a new statement this week saying he is sorry and grateful for the conversations that his recent actions have spurred after comments he made while attending a “Stop the Steal” rally.
Emily Orey started a petition calling for his resignation last week. As of Thursday afternoon, it has more than 1,500 signatures.
“We have to hold him accountable for his actions,” Orey said.
The video was posted to the website, Rumble. Orey wrote in her petition she takes issue with comments Busch made in the video titled “Our Commissioner is a Patriot.”
The video was recorded at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in Casselberry on Jan. 5, one day before the Capitol riot.
“He’s going to have 1 to 2 million people sitting outside the Capitol. They better do the right thing,” Busch said in the video. “They’re foaming at the mouth mad right now. They got the pitchforks, and they got the torches and if they don’t do what they should be doing, watch out. All bets are off.”
News 6 has requested an interview with Busch several times.
Busch released a new statement this week saying he never identified himself as a public official. He said he was there as a private citizen but said “I should have made that clear in the moment.”
He wrote in the statement he is “both sorry and grateful for the conversations my recent actions have spurred.” Busch said he has had positive conversations with concerned residents, including Orey.
“I’m trying to be hopeful that there is some progress on his end,” she said.
Busch also wrote he will continue to fight for freedom of speech. He adds he wants to create a group of diverse leaders and community members “to have open discussions on how to bring us closer together and advance our shared concerns,” he said in the statement.
Orey said she and other concerned citizens will continue to call for Busch’s resignation at Monday’s city commission meeting. She adds city leaders need to respond to his actions.
“Eyes are on Casselberry right now in regards to what they’re going to do in this situation,” Orey said. “They really need to champion for the people to make it known that violent rhetoric is not okay by our public officials and we deserve transparent, honest, and kind leadership in the city of Casselberry.”
News 6 asked Casselberry Mayor David Henson for a comment. He declined to comment on the issue publicly before Monday’s city commission meeting.
Below is Busch’s full statement sent to News 6:
As an elected official I am both sorry and grateful for the conversations that my recent actions have spurred. I am sorry that my words have caused offense to some and grateful that they have demonstrated how important free speech is for all of us. I appreciate the citizens that have courageously demonstrated the importance of holding our elected officials accountable. That people have opposed my freedom of speech with their free speech demonstrates how important free speech is.
As seen on the recent video I never identified myself by way of clothing, patches, insignias or statements as a public official. I was there as a private citizen on my own account to support the constitution, voter integrity and the fundamental principles on which our country was founded. I should have made that clear at the moment. I didn’t and I am sorry for any angst I have caused the citizens of Casselberry because of this. I was representing myself and not the office I hold or those I serve.
To be clear, I condemn violence of any kind. What happened at the Capitol was a tragedy for our country and a blot on our standing as leaders of the free world. Anyone who committed a crime should be brought to justice.
This election was the most contested one in my lifetime and emotions were high across the political spectrum. In these passionate times I realize my need to be more measured with my statements and I welcome any concerned citizen who seeks to petition their grievances. The first amendment protects the freedom to petition. We must respect all voices, including those that we disagree with. – this is how healthy democracy works.
This week I have had positive, honest and vulnerable conversations with some of the concerned residents and we all feel there is an opportunity to work together to bridge some of the divide in our community and model what a healthy future can look like. I would like to champion putting together a group which will include diverse leaders and residents in the community to have open discussions on how to bring us closer together and advance our shared concerns. Building unity begins by what we agree on, not what we don’t.
Communication is a two-way transaction of speaking and listening, and while we all value the important right to our freedom of speech, I am committed to creating environments where we can listen, understand and collaborate together.
I am a constitutional conservative and will continue to fight for freedom of speech, voter reform and the rule of law. I continue to plead to all fair-minded people to work together diligently to heal the discord in our communities and our nation. This is a time to use our freedom of speech to build, and not cancel, to heal and not hurt and to use our collective wisdom to build a stronger community.