Herrera admonishment tabled, supporters sound off

Fallout from the resignation of the former city manager and possible investigation of Councilor Roland Herrera continues to rain down in the chambers of the Keizer City Council.

On Monday, May 3, the council tabled action of a potential memo of corrective action for Herrera. Herrera was placed under increased scrutiny for forwarding city emails to his personal computer and posting to social media during council meetings.

During public testimony, members of the public took issue with the council’s treatment of Herrera by the council in the wake of Keizer’s former city manager discharging a gun in his civic center office in early March.

The incident with a firearm, and subsequent treatment of the council’s only racial minority member, made Claire Snyder feel unsafe in the building and standing in front of the city councilors to offer testimony.

“You are demonstrating bias, racism, intolerance, bigotry and allowing those sounds louder than those and indignity to be heard louder than the people who are asking you to make this a safe and equitable space,” Snyder said. She later added that the only reason she felt brave enough to be in the room was the presence of supporters who stood behind her as she offered testimony.

To better reflect the current state of affairs, she suggested that the city’s recently-adopted statement of values could state: The city of Keizer has affirmed its commitment to protecting its own regardless of their negligence or whether it causes members of the community to be further exposed to hostility and double standards.

“I beg of you to do better,” Snyder said.

Mayor Cathy Clark offered “acknowledgment and appreciation” of Snyder’s feelings, and said she was sorry Snyder felt fearful of appearing in the council chambers.

A letter from Levi Herrera-Lopez, executive director of Mano a Mano and a McNary High School alum, made a pointed critique of the council addressing harassment of Herrera on social media and in email. His letter was also read aloud by someone in attendance during public testimony.

At a prior meeting, Clark asked if Herrera had reported the incidents, but that question is indicative of requiring members of a minority to raise concerns about their treatment adds to the stigma, Herrera-Lopez wrote, but was clear that he was not accusing the council of racism.

“What I witnessed is a textbook example of the experiences of systemic harassment familiar to so many people of color, LGBTQ+ persons and others,” Herrera-Lopez wrote.

A former Keizer resident Paige Hook suggested that councilors were holding Herrera to a double standard when it came to social media interactions and provided screenshots of Councilor Dan Kohler interacting with Hook using his councilor Facebook account.

“I’d ask that you cease what appears to be petty attacks on Councilor Herrera,” Hook wrote.