Clackamas chair, department heads ask Mark Shull to resign
UPDATE 3:40 P.M. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 13: Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith is now calling on Mark Shull to resign his seat on the Board of County Commissioners.
"In support of the greatest good of citizens of Clackamas County, I have asked that Mark Shull resign from the Board of County Commissioners immediately," Smith said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
The move follows publication of a letter carrying the signatures of nearly every department head, deputy director and senior manager employed by Clackamas County which called for the Board of County Commissioners to condemn statements made on social media by Shull and suggested he resign as commissioner following publication of heinous statements on his personal Facebook page representing racist, transphobic, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant views.
"In all the power dynamics of the employees here in the county, those of us at the top of that structure have the most responsibility to raise our voice," the Jan. 13 letter read. "We respectfully call on you to condemn the comments of any commissioner who works against equity and inclusion of all of our residents, and to prioritize education and re-commitment of the current Board of Commissioners to the County's policies on anti-racism without delay."
Calls for Shull's resignation continue to mount — now including almost every elected official in the county outside of the board itself — following Monday's publication of a blog outing odious comments the recently elected county commissioner has made over the past two years. The comments were catalogued in a blog by Jennings Lodge resident Cris Waller.
The letter was issued to both the board and County Administrator Gary Schmidt as a message that county employees vehemently oppose the views expressed by Shull.
"We believe Mr. Shull should immediately resign his position," the letter said.
Schmidt has worked tirelessly in recent years to foster a culture of inclusion and put equity at the forefront of every conversation. Part of that effort includes the hiring last year of Martine Coblentz, county equity and inclusion officer, who has led efforts to improve workplace culture and reform hiring practices through an equity lens.
Signatures from the county's executive management team include:
Cheryl Bledsoe, Director of Central Communications
Angie Brandenburg, Sheriff
The Honorable Karen Brisbin, Justice of the Peace
Nancy Bush, Director of Disaster Management
Martine Coblentz, County Equity and Inclusion Officer
Jodi Cochran, County Chief Audit Executive
Elizabeth Comfort, Director of Finance
David Cummings, Director of Technology Services
Greg Geist, Director of Water Environment Services
Sherry Hall, County Clerk
Sue Hildick, Director of Public and Government Affairs
Dan Johnson, Director of Department of Transportation and Development
Tami Little, Assessor
Lauren MacNeill, Director of Resolution Services
Stephen Madkour, County Counsel
Christina McMahan, Director of Juvenile Department
Evelyn Minor-Lawrence, Director of Human Resources
Brian Nava, Treasurer
Samara Phelps, Director of Tourism and Cultural Affairs
Richard Swift, Director of Health, Housing and Human Services
John Wentworth, District Attorney
Laura Zentner, Director of Business and Community Services
Clackamas County's Democratic legislative caucus has issued their own letter calling on Commissioner Shull to resign.
"In a moment when too many give in to their hatred and deny facts, we've seen firsthand in Salem and in Washington, D.C. in recent weeks just how destructive this kind of language can be. Hatred like this has no place in our society," the lawmakers' statement said. "Rather, we must do all we can to collectively confront our past and to address the continued impact that systemic racism and bigotry have on immigrants and communities of color.
"Furthermore, Commissioner Shull's statement in response to these social media posts becoming public is not remotely acceptable. It is a non-apology and does not show the necessary regret he should have for so consistently using dehumanizing language to describe other people. He has not offered a true, sincere apology and shown he is willing to take real, concrete steps to start a healing process for those who he's repeatedly hurt with his hateful rhetoric. He should resign immediately."
Signatures from Clackamas County legislators include:
Rep. Karin Power, Milwaukie
Rep. Rachel Prusak, West Linn
Rep. Jeff Reardon, Happy Valley
Rep. Andrea Salinas, Lake Oswego
Rep. Janelle Bynum, Clackamas/Happy Valley
Rep. Courtney Neron, Wilsonville/Sherwood
Rep. Anna Williams, Hood River/Mt. Hood
Rep. Mark Meek, Oregon City
Rep. Dacia Grayber, Tigard/Lake Oswego
Senate Majority Leader, Rob Wagner, Lake Oswego
Sen. Kayse Jama, SE Portland/Clackamas
Rep. Christine Drazan, R-Canby, also condemned Shull's social media posts.
"Commissioner Shull's comments were not taken out of context, they were not a slip of the tongue or an unguarded moment. They were ugly, divisive and hurtful beliefs that are offensive to my core values and those of this community. We need public servants who will honor differences and respect all people — whether that is in their private lives or their public capacity. We need leaders who will bring us together, not drive us apart," Drazan said.
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