An Antioch city council meeting that as set to discuss the appointment of a new city manager and police chief sparked comments that concerned the mayor.
Mayor Lamar Thorpe has taken to social media to call out racially insensitive remarks made during the meeting, and the man who made the comments said he stands by them.
The comment was made during a meeting to discuss the appointment of Cornelius Johnson as the permanent city manager for Antioch.
“That person right there should be promoted to city manager, but maybe she’s not Black enough for you,” said a resident.
The mayor said he’s accustomed to the criticism that comes with being the leader of the city, but this comment struck a nerve.
“It makes my stomach turn,” he said.
He said he was taken aback by the comments for many reasons including the fact that Johnson, who currently serves as the Interim Manager for the city, brings decades of experience.
“It takes away from the fact that he worked hard to get a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree in the very job he’s doing,” the mayor said.
NBC Bay Area talked to Mark Jordan, the man who made the comments.
“The comment was made because Tammy Brooks, like yourself, does not appear to be Black,” he said.
Jordan was referring to the skin tone of the city’s former police chief and NBC Bay Area reporter Pete Suratos, who is Black.
Beyond the comment, Jordan said he’s frustrated with the current hiring process for the next city manager.
“While there’s no state or federal requirement that it be open to everyone, there’s the issue of transparency and tradition,” he said. “The mayor doesn’t promote white individuals or Hispanic or Asian people to positions of power in the city.”
Mayor Thorpe disputes the accusation and said he has appointed several diverse candidates both as city council member and now as mayor.
He wants to make sure the discourse remains respectful despite disagreements.
“Antioch is a city of inclusiveness,” he said, “and you’re still going to have small elements of people who for whatever reason can’t get past their own notions other people.”
Source: NBC Bay Area