April 28, 2016
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump appeared for a rally at West Chester University on Monday in advance of Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary election, one of five he won in a clean sweep. On his way through Chester County, Trump snapped a photo of a defunct paper mill in Downingtown and tweeted it out to his followers to lament the decline of American manufacturing.
That Tweet sparked a heated reaction to Trump — who is by now used to this sort of thing in every sphere — from Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell.
"When Trump sent out that tweet I was overwhelmed with negative comments on social media about how bad Downingtown is [and] how our community is 'sad' because 'President Trump' said so," Maxwell wrote in a post on Facebook. "I've had to block over 100 accounts since just yesterday."
Maxwell, a Democrat running for the 74th State House District, responded to Trump on Twitter by pointing out that the shuttered Sonoco Paper Mill is actually slated to become a high-speed train station.
There is nothing sad about Downingtown.— Josh Maxwell (@maxwelljosh) April 25, 2016
That mill is a future high spd train stn You are uniformed, to put it mildy https://t.co/dgYRBTeCJQ
To be honest, that abandoned paper mill and future train station looks better than Trump Taj Mahal. https://t.co/qeA73IN493— Josh Maxwell (@maxwelljosh) April 26, 2016
According to The Daily Local, the Sunoco paper mill closed in 2005 after a fired caused nearly $500,000 in damage. Despite fitful attempts to revitalize the property, Maxwell said he and state reps have meetings planned with developers and PennDOT to put a plan for the station in place by the end of 2016.
Maxwell later wrote a lengthy post on his public Facebook account explaining his reaction to Trump's attack on Downingtown and the flood of negativity that followed. In a town the size of his, he said, he's "a volunteer, essentially," who makes less than $2,000 per year to be mayor:
I probably shouldn't have called Donald Trump a 'jerk' for referring to Downingtown or a for-too-long vacant building as 'sad'. At the time, I didn't feel the negative attention the comment brought to this community was warranted ...
Now that I have said that, I have to get to work on getting that train station built quickly. I don't want any more presidential candidates to think we are a yet-to-be-rehabbed industrial town. Downingtown is #smalltownheaven.
Since the exchange, Maxwell has received a wave of support on Twitter for standing up to Trump's insult.
“It’s unfortunate,” Maxwell told The Daily Local. “I can’t think of a better community for Donald Trump to pass through than Downingtown. I wish he would’ve soaked in some of the culture.”