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Calls for Imperial County Officials Resignations Rescinded

IMPERIAL COUNTY — The recent resolution calling for the resignation of Imperial County’s executive officer and registrar of voters has been rescinded, and a formal apology has been issued.

However, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors still voted 5-0 during its meeting Sept. 15 to send a letter to the California Democratic Party Rules Committee asking what the California Democratic Party intends to do to “mitigate the impacts these false and injurious accusations have had on Imperial County during these difficult times,” according to the letter. 

The letter also asks that the Democratic Party conduct a review of the Imperial County Democratic Central Committee’s membership and conduct.

The letter is in response to the Imperial County Democratic Central Committees recent resolution of no confidence in County Executive Officer Tony Rouhotas Jr. and Registrar of Voters Debbie Porter. The resolution cited what they said are racist overcharging for some documents, delaying in copying records requested by a Mexican-American woman and allowing a white candidate to submit additional paperwork late.

Two members of the Imperial County Democratic Central Committee have come out against the resolution since its initial passing in late August. Hilton Smith, first vice chair of the committee and co-founder of the local Black Lives Matter movement, has stated that he does not believe the perceived irregularities in the election process are based on race. 

“I made two mistakes,” Smith said to another local newspaper. “One was voting for that resolution. The other was putting too much faith in the ICDCC.

“I oppose the resolution,” he said in an interview Sept. 15. “I have some issues with it.”

Marlene Thomas, a longtime community advocate, co-founder of the local Black Lives Matter movement and chair of the Imperial Valley Social Justice Committee, called the resolution “appalling” and “spewed with hate, false allegations and tainted with racism,” in a letter to Annette Gonzalez-Buttner, committee chair of the Imperial County Democratic Central Committee.

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That resolution was rescinded Sept. 14 by a 6-4 vote by the Imperial County Democratic Central Committee, Gonzalez-Buttner said. The committee also voted to issue a formal apology to Rouhotas and Porter.

But the Board of Supervisors still moved forward with sending the letter, including all the board members signatures. “I am happy to see that the committee has taking action to rescind the resolution and send an apology but I do believe we need to continue to make sure that all of our actions are taken with counsel, that we know that we are doing things in the right spirit and that we’re not being demonstrative or taking actions that can personally injure,” Imperial County Supervisor Ryan Kelley said. “We should be considerate of each other, follow the Golden Rule.”


This story is featured in the Sep 17, 2020 e-Edition.

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