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Letter condemns Clackamas County commissioner's 'heinous' transphobic, Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic statements

Oregon City School District board members this week added their names to the legion of Clackamas County elected officials calling for the resignation of County Commissioner Mark Shull in light of his racist and homophobic comments.

Anna FarmerOCSD School Board Chair Martha Spiers said Shull's "heinous" comments have resulted in County Board Chair Tootie Smith asking for Shull's resignation, making the calls for him to step down widespread and bipartisan.

Spiers and fellow OCSD School Board member Anna Farmer teamed up to write a letter to reaffirm the school board's "commitment to support everyone's right to feel seen, heard, safe, and welcome in our community by joining with other Clackamas County and regional leaders" in calling on Shull to immediately resign as county commissioner.

"We're proud to throw this out there and help bring it to light that he needs to resign," Farmer said.

OCSD School Board leaders signed a statement saying that Shull's "contemptible transphobic, Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic statements have caused fear and harm in our community.

"For us to remain silent now would cause additional harm to the students and families we support, and would betray our core value of equity and inclusion," the school board's letter said.

On June 4, the school board unanimously passed a resolution condemning violence and racism and pledged to actively and intentionally counteract racist practices. Their call for Shull to resign was intended to reaffirm their commitment to promote inclusion and equitable access to opportunities for all people, including those who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

School board member Evon Tekorius surprised her fellow OCSD officials by becoming the lone no vote in a 5-1 decision to mail the letter to the county board. As a result, neither Tekorius' name nor her signature appear on the letter condemning Shull's hate speech to county officials, but the other five board members signed the letter.

Tekorius' decision to oppose the Feb. 22 resolution on procedural grounds came as a surprise to the other board members, since on Feb. 8 she had asked for more time to review Shull's hate speech, claiming she hadn't heard of the well-publicized condemnations of Shull over the previous month.

On Feb. 8, Tekorius didn't question the board's right to condemn Shull; she simply requested time to review Shull's statements, which on Feb. 22 she agreed were hateful and worthy of condemnation.

"Hate speech affects us all," Tekorius said. "As much as I agree with the contents of the letter, I don't feel it is in the purview of the school board."

"Whose role is it, Evon?" Farmer asked.

"It's every single one of us, but not as a board," Tekorius responded.

Farmer pressed Tekorius on opposing the resolution, asking, "If not us, who?"

Tekorius claimed that the school board was engaging in political activity by condemning Shull.

Tekorius in 2016 unsuccessfully ran as a Republican state representative for Oregon City, and Shull is a fellow Republican. School board members Pamela White and Steven Soll both responded that it's elected school board members' job to condemn hateful and dangerous rhetoric by anyone in the community, especially by another elected official, regardless of party politics.

"We are making a statement to our parents and our kids that we will stand up and protect them in our community," White said.

Tekorius will face opposition if she wants another term in office as an OC School Board member. Her current term will expire June 30, and she has until March 18 to file for reelection on May 18. Jeana G. Gonzales, the chief petitioner in the recently successful mayoral recall, already has filed for Tekorius' seat.

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