Mayor of small Northern California town to resign for dismissing police reform

The mayor of a small town in Northern California announced her resignation Tuesday following a backlash over comments she made dismissing the need for police reform in the town.

“I fully support the Black Lives Matter movement and am eager to consider and adopt policies that advance its goals,” Healdsburg’s Mayor Leah Gold wrote in a statement posted on the city’s Facebook page announcing her resignation.

“Although I feel positively about my contributions and have many loyal supporters, I’m certain there are also many BIPOC [black, indigenous, people of color] members of our community who could serve our city well. As I’ve considered how I can help Healdsburg advance in racial justice during this critical juncture, I believe that one of the ways I can contribute is by creating a space for a person of color to join the City Council,” she wrote.

Calls for Gold’s resignation first started earlier this month after she said scheduling a City Council meeting to discuss police reform in Healdsburg would be a “solution looking for a problem.” She said the town has  “a very good police chief who is on top of these issues and trains his staff in appropriate conflict-resolution methods,” SF Gate reported.

Afterward, a woman named Elena Halvorsen wrote an email to Gold saying the town deserves more than a “complete denial of an issue that many in our town encounter on a daily basis.” She also accused the mayor of putting her “white privilege on full display.”

Gold responded by saying, “I really don’t know how to respond to your misplaced outrage and the hyperbolic tone of your letter. Perhaps after you have cooled down a bit we can arrange a civil phone conversation.” Halvorsen posted her email and Gold’s response on her Facebook page.

Halvorsen added in the post that they eventually spoke on the phone but didn’t come to a “resolution” and she left the conversation “frustrated.”

A Change.org petition calling for Gold’s resignation received nearly 2,000 signatures.

Gold acknowledged in a post on June 6 that her initial response was “inappropriate” and said she was “speaking off the cuff and within a narrow band at the Council meeting, on the question of whether excessive use of force is an issue in the Healdsburg Police Department. But clearly, the public is engaged in a much broader conversation.”

On Monday, a letter was read in a city council meeting, arguing the mayor should resign for “silencing of the underrepresented community in Healdsburg,” “urging the city to refrain from public demonstration taking place across the country,” and “initially silencing an important agenda item on use of force,” SF Gate reported.

Gold’s resignation will be effective June 30.

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