A social media post referring to a constituent as a bigot did not go unnoticed last week.
The comment, made by Lee Moore, Gardner council president, and liked by Rich Melton, vice-president, and Mark Baldwin, member, reflects on comments made between Moore and an unidentified woman at the city’s June 17 meeting.
Since the original post, Moore and Melton appear to have taken down their council social media pages, and the American Civil Liberty Union issued a comment referring to Moore as a bigot.
According to Moore’s original post:
“I approached a citizen to ask if there was a particular issue or concern that brought her to the meeting, or that she would like help with. This person told me she had a problem with the lack of ‘diversity’ on the Governing Body and that she felt that she is not represented because none of us are black. I have to say, I was genuinely shocked by this overt racial bigotry. I could only reply that my skin color is not something I can do anything about and that it has nothing to do at all with my colleagues’ or my capacity to represent anyone,” his June 18 post says.
Gardner’s five member council is all white male, as is the city administrator and most department heads. The only woman on the dais during meetings is the city clerk.
Moore’s comments, made on his city council social media page, says he couldn’t do anything about his skin color. The post did not go unnoticed.
Kiva Simmons-Lee, Gardner planning commission member, responded to Moore’s comments, saying that Moore’s response to the constituent’s concern is evidence of the need for diversity.
“Representation and diversity are important, and they matter,” she wrote. “Diversity of membership in any organization fosters diversity of thought and ideas. Diverse thinking has led to the economic growth we experience in Gardner today.
“It’s true that Councilman Moore can’t help the color of his skin, but he can help the way he thinks. Dismissing this women’s concern about representation as simple ‘bigotry’ is shortsighted,” she continued. “Instead, his response should have been ‘what are your concerns about the council’s direction and policies that make you feel as if you are not being represented?’”
“In the end, Councilman Moore is partially correct. Most people vote for a person because they represent their ideals, their experiences, and their interests,” she said. In a perfect world, it shouldn’t matter what package that person comes in, but more times than not it does. “That’s why women and minorities fought for the right to vote. To ensure their voices were heard.”
Instead of incorrectly classifying the woman as a bigot, Simmons-Lee said, dig a little deeper and find out what her real issue is.
“That’s a quality of a real representative of the people,” she said.
An email asking for comment sent to Moore and Steve Shute, mayor, last week regarding the post has not been answered.
The ACLU’s comment indicated Moore’s comment towards the woman’s concerns were dismissive and labeled him a bigot.