The local NAACP chapter is urging the city council to approve a no confidence measure against council president Julio Tavarez for “racially divisive” remarks he made in December over the city clerk appointments.
“Tavarez displayed poor judgment and a lack of compassion for our city and its sensitive racial composition,” wrote Kenneth Clayton, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “His race baiting and negative remarks demonstrate a lack of concern and insensitivity that should not be seen in an elected official, particularly city council president.”
Clayton’s letter to the council dated January 29th, 2015, mentions the December 2014 city clerk appointments, during which Tavarez pushed for Hispanic representation in the leadership of the city clerk’s office. Tavarez wanted a Hispanic city employee for deputy clerk as opposed to two African-Americans, one for city clerk and another for deputy clerk, for diversity. Council members later appointed the two black clerks.
Tavarez took to Spanish radio stations to encourage the city’s Latino population to support the appointment of a Hispanic deputy clerk. The no confidence resolution before the council reads Tavarez “made false and inaccurate statements which mischaracterized and misrepresented the actions and positions of the members of the municipal council” during the radio broadcasts.
Tavarez, who was not present during Tuesday’s meeting, could not be reached for comments.
He subsequently – when questioned by Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large – denied he made any “divisive” remarks; he told Morris he merely encouraged residents to support his candidate for deputy clerk by calling certain council members.
Council members are divided on the no confidence resolution up for vote in the next regular meeting of the council. William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, who called for the measure, and Morris, appear to be the only two solid votes in favor of the measure.
“As an elected official he should be committed to representing the total make-up of our city without bringing division to our city,” wrote Clayton echoing the calls of a number of city activists.
Clayton, pastor at the St. Luke Baptist Church, also called on the council to remove Tavarez from the presidency. Council members have said the no confidence measure is to show disapproval of the president’s leadership rather than to remove him.
The resolution which was not discussed during Tuesday’s workshop session states Tavarez “has shown himself to lack the temperament and character to command the respect and confidence of this body [council].”
Clayton could not be reached for comments for this story.