Antioch mayor responds to racially insensitive remarks made at town meeting – NBC Bay Area
A meeting of the Antioch city council that was to discuss the appointment of a new city manager and police chief has prompted comments that worry the mayor.
Mayor Lamar Thorpe took to social media to speak out against the racially insensitive remarks made at the meeting, and the man who made the comments said he supports them.
The comment was made during a meeting to discuss the appointment of Cornelius Johnson as the permanent city manager of Antioch.
“This person there should be promoted to city manager, but maybe he’s not black enough for you,” said one resident.
The mayor said he was used to the criticism that comes with being the leader of the city, but that comment struck a chord.
“It makes my stomach turn,” he said.
He said he was surprised by the comments for many reasons, including the fact that Johnson, who currently serves as acting city manager, brings decades of experience.
“It takes away from the fact that he worked hard to get a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in the very work he does,” the mayor said.
NBC Bay Area spoke to Mark Jordan, the man who made the comments.
“The comment was made because Tammy Brooks, like you, doesn’t appear to be black,” he said.
Jordan was referring to the skin tone of former city police chief and NBC Bay Area reporter Pete Suratos, who is black.
Beyond the comment, Jordan said he was frustrated with the current hiring process for the next city manager.
“While there is no state or federal requirement that it be open to everyone, there is the issue of transparency and tradition,” he said. “The mayor is not promoting whites, Hispanics, or Asians to positions of power in the city.”
Mayor Thorpe disputes the charge and said he had nominated several diverse candidates both as a member of the city council and now as mayor.
He wants to make sure that the speech remains respectful despite the disagreements.
“Antioch is an inclusive city,” he said, “and you’re always going to have small elements of people who for some reason can’t get past their own notions of other people.”