Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Call for Respect and Representation in El Cajon

Community members rallied at El Cajon City Hall yesterday to protest Mayor Mark Lewis, whose recent comments about Chaldean schoolchildren were perceived by many residents to be racist and insensitive. San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Francine Busby has issued the following statement.

"Mayor Lewis recently said of his city's substantial Chaldean community -- many of whom are refugees from Iraq -- 'It doesn’t take them too long to learn where all the freebies are at.' That was in reference to children receiving free school lunches.

"In the same interview, he suggested that government programs that support 'minorities' are causing 'white flight' in El Cajon. The Mayor says he doesn't think his comments were offensive, but thousands of his constituents may feel differently.

"Too many Republican leaders like Mayor Lewis have an us-versus-them mentality, polarizing our society and generalizing those served by our government as 'takers.' I'm reminded of Mitt Romney's infamous '47 percent' speech last year, which essentially blamed students, veterans, the poor, and the elderly for a sense of 'entitlement.' The American people rejected that attitude, and I believe residents of El Cajon will too.

"We need elected leaders who not only better respect, but also better reflect, the whole community. El Cajon's Mayor and City Council are all white, yet almost half of their constituents are non-white. The city's elected officials are all men, though half of the population are women. All five of them are registered Republicans, but 63% of voters in the city are not. It's time for that to change.

"I call on Mayor Lewis to apologize for his needlessly divisive remarks. Further, I urge El Cajon residents to organize, register to vote, and turn out to elect public officials next year who will bring a fresh and more inclusive perspective to city government. For our part, the County Democratic Party will redouble our efforts to support candidates committed to advancing that important goal."

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