By Henrietta J. Burroughs
East Palo Alto Today
Posted December 8, 2010
The East Palo Alto City Council selected its new mayor and vice mayor and, following the pattern set over the past few council reorganizations, the selection of
the city’s new officers this year, involved its own share of controversy.
The controversy started at the outset of the council’s Tuesday night meeting. But when it was all over, the city’s Vice Mayor Carlos Romero, was elected as the new mayor and Laura Martinez was elected as the vice mayor. The vote in both cases was 4 to 1, with council member Peter Evans voting no.
Prior to the council’s reorganization, Evans read from a memo that he had circulated hours before the council meeting. In his memo, he decried the fact that, even though he served as the city’s vice mayor during his six years on the East Palo Alto City Council, he has been denied an opportunity to serve as the city’s mayor. He said, “This racist and evil policy has violated my electoral and civil rights.”
In continuing to read from his memo, Evans said, “The adopted policy has only impacted me and not other East Palo Alto Council member. I will no longer accept this racist and evil policy. As African Americans we protested and fought against this type of uncivil activities by white Europeans. Now some Blacks and Mexicans in our City have replaced them. I will not be a “sit in” or a “sit down” during this protest. My attendance while this racist and evil policy exists will be limited to Council Roll Call. It is my intent to protest the past racist and evil policy by leaving each scheduled City Council meeting after roll call is completed.”
Evans’ memo was sent to ML Gordon, East Palo Alto’s newly appointed city manager, Patrick Ewing, the city attorney, and to other city council members prior to the meeting. It was also available as a hand out to those who attended the council meeting. Read Evans' complete memo here.
As far as the council was concerned, Evans’ protest seemed to fall on deaf ears. After the reorganization was held electing Romero and Martinez, Minette Warren, the city clerk, swore in as incoming council members,Council member Ruben Abrica and the city’s former Mayor David Woods, who, both, won re-election to the East Palo Alto City Council last November.
During the council community forum, several of Evans’ supporters protested what they considered the unfair process, which kept him excluded from the council’s top spot. Residents Ora Colbert Johnson, Jeri Oakley and Mike Francois spoke on Evans’ behalf and criticized the council for its past actions in excluding Evans from serving as mayor of the city. The council next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, December 14.