Defining racism in Mohave County
Problematic comments on a commissioner’s social media raise questions about the nature of public service
KINGMAN – The Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission had to delay their business as usual at the Wednesday, August 14 meeting. A group of concerned residents and activists used the public comments portion of the meeting to voice their outrage regarding recent comments on social media by Commissioner LaJuana Gillette, and asked for her resignation or removal.
Before listening to the speakers, Chief Civil Deputy Robert Taylor spoke about a workshop county employees took last month which addressed the problem of social media activity of public servants.
Taylor said that while county employees have a Constitutional right to express themselves, as part of government they also have a responsibility to serve the public without discrimination, and maintain public confidence in that service.
“Your posts are not entirely private,” Taylor said. “As public figures, your actions and opinions are an object of high scrutiny.”
Democrat Mary McCord Robinson was the first speaker. She said she reviewed the Mohave County Policy and Procedures using her longtime professional experience in employment law, and pointed out various code of business and ethics violations.
“Based on her [Gillette] comments that we have to stop minorities from coming here and changing things, I question her ability to not be biased,” Robison said.
Kingman is a tourist community and Gillette is not OK with Spanish and Chinese languages being spoken in America, McCord pointed out.
“She also made a negative comment on women ‘trying to rule the world now,’” she added. “Well, then maybe she herself shouldn’t be in a position of authority.”
Sharon Webber was another Kingmanite who came to question Gillette’s ability to place an honest judgement and conduct her office in an unbiased fashion. Webber read Gillette’s comment regarding the commissioner’s unease with “almost all of doctors here being of color, and many are Muslims.”
“Can each and every one of you actually guarantee that Ms. Gillette can do her job in an unbiased fashion,” Webber asked the commission. That when a black person , a yellow person, a Jewish person, a Muslim person, an LGBTQ person comes to her desk for something for planning and zoning, she’s not going to make any decisions on the biases she’s expressed?”
Other speakers who called for Gillette’s resignation were Dulcy Warfield, Mark Shaver, Trecia Christopherson from Kingman Area Diversity Endeavor, and J’aime Morgaine of Indivisible Kingman.
Gillette wasn’t present at the meeting but participated by phone. When it was her time to respond to criticism, she said it strikes her as strange to consider her post about “too many brown people” as racist. She also said she made those comments simply reacting to the news of a day.
Gillette claims she is not a racist because she has Mexican and Indian grandchildren.