A deleted tweet by Charlottesville Area Transit appeared to endorse Democratic City Council candidate Michael Payne.
The tweet, posted Wednesday morning, quoted a post by Payne in which he announced his endorsement by the Working Families Party, a progressive political organization. Payne’s tweet also included a donation link.
“Great to have you as an advocate of our community, @MPayneCville! Togetherness is what we need in order to build a stronger foundation,” the tweet said.
It was posted by CAT’s marketing coordinator, Kyle Ervin, who said it was “a mistake.”
“I’m just a strong advocate for the community and, just with what Charlottesville’s been through and where we’re going in the future, I think it’s really important to encourage people who want to build others up,” he said. “So possibly that clouded my judgment.”
“We were not trying to endorse anyone,” Ervin added. “I just think it was a quick decision. That won’t happen again.”
The city said in a statement that the tweet was “a mistake.”
“The city’s personnel policies prohibit employees from communicating about political activities in a manner which might be construed to indicate official partisan support of an organization or a candidate, particularly from the city’s own social media accounts,” the statement read. “We regret the error and the matter has been discussed with the employee and management.”
City spokesman Brian Wheeler said he could not say if any disciplinary action would be taken, but he called it a “teachable moment.”
In a statement, Payne said that he didn’t consider it to be “an endorsement or political statement — just CAT engaging with the community, as they’ve done at numerous local events.”
“CAT has a dedicated team of workers,” he said, “and I look forward to working with my fellow city councilors and CAT to expand transit ridership and move towards creating a Regional Transit Authority.”
Payne is running with fellow Democrats Lloyd Snook and Sena Magill. Bellamy Brown, John Hall and Paul Long are running without party affiliation.