Elected officials trade barbs in wake of election, inclusion talks

The mudslinging started when Oregon State Rep. Bill Post appeared to target a Keizer city councilor in a since-deleted Facebook post.

“The leader of this gang … a current councilor will be ousted in two years … mark my words. This ‘gang’ will be tossed from Keizer. I’ve had enough of their hostile takeover attempts,’ Post wrote around Nov. 5.

Post did not mention who he was writing about by name, but Councilor Roland Herrera thinks he was the target of the post. “That was directed at me,” said Herrera. “I’ve never been in a gang,” he added.

Herrera supported progressive candidates running for the council earlier this month. Since that time, hostilities seemed to have festered, particularly among those who supported the winning candidates.

Herrera has taken heat in recent months over his stance pushing for a bold inclusivity resolution. Herrera wants the statement to include a condemnation of white supremacy, others on the council have appeared less willing to support such a statement. Herrera has also apologized, repeatedly, for the moments in public meetings when he appeared to let anger get the best of him.

Last week, Post submitted a written comment opposing the current draft of the values statement to the then read it aloud as part of public testimony at the city council meeting Monday, Nov. 16. He is advocating for a more bare version of the statement: “All people shall be treated with dignity and respect.”

“All means all,” Post told the council. “If we must resort to listing specific people or groups then ‘all’ loses its meaning and strength.”

As part of public testimony, another Keizer resident, told the council that she appreciated their work, but did not appreciate being labeled as a “gang member” because she had different views.

“I was disappointed to hear a difference of political views being characterized as a hostile takeover rather than a normal, healthy, part of the democratic process,” said Pat Fisher.

Fisher noted that none of the candidates, on either side of the political spectrum, received more than 50% of the votes when undervotes were included. Undervotes are the number of ballots that are returned without a vote for a specific race.

Amid the rancor over a draft of the values statement under discussion, Councilor Dan Kohler used his city email address to admonish Herrera.

In a message sent Wednesday, Nov. 11, Kohler wrote, “The continual victimhood you spew reminds me of a deeply bitter man I once knew.”

Kohler then recounts a parable-like tale of the man and how he “died a bitter man with few friends.”

Kohler concludes writing, “I care about you. You don’t look happy. I fear for your health and well being. God did not put us here on earth to be victims. Here is to putting your best foot forward, finding peace, joy and happiness in life. Let’s stop and smell the roses.”

The content of that email was not discussed during the council meeting, but a pallor of exhaustion appeared to hang over much of the council’s discussions Monday night.