The Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. continues to affect Westminster City Council meetings. During a Jan. 25 meeting, a resident condemned a statement city council issued two weeks …
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The Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. continues to affect Westminster City Council meetings.
During a Jan. 25 meeting, a resident condemned a statement city council issued two weeks ago, to which several councilors defended in response. Meanwhile, another public comment about the recall effort invoked national events. The discussions, while brief, point to an increasingly heated political climate in town.
“This intolerance statement is a slap in the face to thousands of Westminster residents and many tens of millions of Americans,” said resident William McCann in a recorded voicemail played during the public comments portion.
McCann said the statement, which council unanimously issued, was based on “personal biases, presumptions and agendas.”
The statement condemned the violence at the Capitol and symbols of white supremacy that some rioters displayed. In response, McCann said, “It is unseemly for a city council to paint with such a broad brush of a varied group consisting of tens of thousands of protesters as racist and white supremacist.”
“I only saw two of Confederate flags,” McCann added.
The resident thought council rushed to conclusions and claimed that left-wing extremists were responsible for the insurrection. Federal authorities and news outlets have found that claim to be untrue.
Amidst McCann's denunciations, councilors on both sides of the aisle stood with their official statement.
“I think that what we attempted to do with that statement is that we, at this local level, show that we can come together having different views with people who may have voted for different presidents and still figure out how we can move forward,” said Councilman David DeMott.
DeMott acknowledges he doesn't agree with some of his colleagues on the dais because he supports Donald Trump. However, he said “At some point, we have to figure out how we work together and move forward.”
Mayor Pro Tem Anita Seitz, a more progressive voice on council, agreed. “I think all of us (council members) have different viewpoints and different politics, but we all wanted to stand up against hate and violence.”
After McCann's voicemail played, the city clerk played another voicemail from former city councilman Bruce Baker. Baker denounced city staff for deeming recall petitions against four city councilors insufficient. The city clerk's office rejected the petitions because they didn't contain enough valid signatures. The Westminster Water Warriors group disputes the city's reasoning and recently filed suit against the city to overturn the clerk's decision.
Baker, who has assumed a public role in the recall, said that councilors, through city staff, have, “Misinterpreted law and misled people in the recall effort … your agents have bullied and intimidated activists and donors with vague contemplations of legal consequences.”
Baker asked council to “consider a metaphor” which compared rejection of the recall petitions to mid-20th century laws and practices that barred African Americans from voting.
No one directly responded to Baker’s comparison between technical disputes about recall petitions and civil rights violations against African Americans. After the meeting, though, Debbie Teter, a Water Warriors leader, said Baker’s metaphor does not represent her views. She said, “Personally, I do not feel our plight is in anyway related to voter suppression in the past. What we are suffering is the same as most voters across the country in national and local politics – ‘We are not being heard.’”
Also, later in the Jan. 25 meeting, Mayor Herb Atchison did defend city staff. The mayor said, “Any indication that they were bullying people, not listening to process and not following the law, I take great exception to. We have outstanding staff and they have worked enormous hours on this recall issue.”
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