An open letter to Springfield Councilor Dave Ralston: I was elected this year as the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Formed in 1929, LULAC is responsible for the formations of the American GI Forum and Head Start schools. It also helped pave the way for the Brown V. Board of Education ruling.
I am writing to you about the recent remarks made by you in a council meeting on July 20. I was told of these remarks by a friend, and I was concerned because The Register-Guard was pursuing a story at the time. Where there is smoke, there must be fire. But nothing came of it, so I figured that maybe your remarks were not that incendiary.
Boy was I wrong!
This is not the first time I have heard you say something that belongs on right-wing talk radio. Now mind you, I understand there is a market for some of the vile hate filled speech given by the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. But you are not a radio host. You are an elected official. And as such, you are supposed to be professional in your remarks and decisions. I am not going to assume that you listen to some of those mentioned. But your comments sound like those sent into the right-wing echo chamber so they can have some credibility given to them. It we hear it long enough, and it is said loud enough, it must be true. Right?
The problem is that you detract from the real America that most of us want: one of beauty and strength. You being on the council mars the city of Springfield. The Springfield I know has a vibrant and active minority population with many cultures, sexual identities, genders and beliefs. I know of and worked with the Cesar Chavez celebration, as well as an awesome MLK event that takes place every year at Springfield High School. Most residents in your ward take no thought to the color of a person’s skin when said person is looking to help out. I am sure of that.
You say that we may be “making way too much of it.” Clearly you do not understand what an impact your statements have made. Minority representation will make the tapestry of your city even more glorious. We are beautiful. And we are strong. I will paraphrase Langston Hughes here, “We too, sing America.” It is time for you to hang your head in shame.
Have you considered the constituents in your area? I believe you think you are speaking for a specific portion of the population in Springfield. If you have residents of your ward that believe like you, or make statements like you did, this is a small portion of your constituency, microscopic. You do not represent a majority of the people that make up your wonderful city. Why do you win? Name recognition. But your actions show that you do not have Springfield in mind when you make your decisions on the council. You only have your political agenda. It is people like you that continue to give a bad name to elected officials. Do what is right for those who reside in Ward 4 and resign. You can save face and leave after your term is up, but it is time for you to step down.
This letter is co-signed by Emilio Hernandez, Craig Peck, Juan Carlos Valle, Summer Jelinek, Kathleen Caprario Ulrich, Sue Taylor, Rob Dow and Patricia Toledo.