San Andreas, CA — In front of a full house, after much input from the public, the Calaveras supervisors passed a proclamation they hope will help repair the harmful impacts of a public official’s recent racist comment.
As previously reported here, the related action item was slotted at the top of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors public agenda this morning. According to the county government’s spokesperson, Sharon Torrence, moving on the matter took about an hour while over a dozen people took the podium. Each provided prepared remarks relating to the supervisors’ proposed approach to make amends for damage caused by a thoughtless slur by District 4 Planning Commissioner Kelly Wooster at an early March meeting. During a March 10 work session on the county’s general plan elements, he stated that shortening a definitive phrase to the two words “invasive species” might then also refer to “people from Mexico.” After being shared on social media the comment went viral, drawing sharp public criticism and condemnations from the State Assembly’s Latino Legislative Caucus and Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
“There were a lot of people there to make public comments…all in all, I felt that the county was fairly well represented as far as public goes, and all comments were well-received,” Torrence recounts. “There was no yelling. There were no real derogatory remarks…everyone who commented was well-prepared and very respectful.” The motion to adopt the proclamation passed 4-to-1 with Supervisor Chris Wright casting the only dissenting vote. Torrence estimates that more of the public comments favored the supervisors’ plans to formally condemn Wooster’s comment but accept a public apology he made soon after his racist crack as well as allow him to continue in his position, noting his county service and oath to not repeat his mistake. As part of the proclamation the board also pledged that the county will provide sensitivity training to all officials and personnel.
To view the public comments at the beginning of the meeting, as captured by Community Action Project & Calaveras Planning Coalition, click here.