City faces Broyles controversy

ALAMOSA — Alamosa City Councilman David Broyles’ Facebook post became a topic of discussion at Wednesday night’s council meeting with two members of the public calling for his resignation, fellow councilors stating they disagreed with his post and city administration clarifying that fellow councilors could not kick him off council for it. Only the electorate who put him in office could do that, they clarified.

Broyles also publicly apologized for the post that made national news in the last week and promised to prove his true intentions going forward. Fellow councilors said he had called each of them individually and apologized as well.

On March 30 Broyles had posted: “Out of self-respect--be Republican. Democrats love poor people because they think that poor people will vote Democrat. Republicans hate poor people because they think the dignity of man is above being poor.” Broyles stated afterwards that his post and his intention had been misunderstood. “The intent of the sentence is about hating the ‘conditions’ of poor people, or the ‘plight’ of poor people, because the dignity of man is above being poor.”

The Alamosa County Republican Party issued a subsequent apology stating Broyles’ post was his own, not reflecting the party’s position. Broyles was also removed from local party leadership.

Some of the residents who spoke during the public comment period of the city council meeting wanted Broyles also removed from council leadership.

Shanna Hobbs suggested he resign from the council, especially in light of the council’s resolution last year condemning hatred and bigotry. Scott White also suggested that Broyles resign and said, “We should as a city ask for Councilor Broyles’ resignation as a clear show of support for the poor people that he claims the Republicans hate.”

Broyles said he heard the comments following his post “loud and clear, and this event has opened my eyes to two or three things.”

He said one of the ways it opened his eyes was about social media. He said those who wanted to have a dialogue with him could do it one on one, and he would be happy to talk with them about the issue.

Broyles added that while he made the post, it was not his intention the way it was interpreted. “It does not represent who I am,” he said, “and it does not represent the platform of the Republican Party.”

He added that he sincerely apologized to the public and to the Republican Party and he would show his true intentions in the months ahead. He said his whole life had been working for the poor, and he had grown up in Antonito and lived in Alamosa. He added he planned to write a letter to the editor detailing “everything I will do to work with the poor.”

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks said this was a learning opportunity for the city to change its social media policy that if a councilor or city employee is posting something on a personal Facebook site there must be a disclaimer that that is the person’s own opinion, not that of the city.

City Attorney Erich Schwiesow agreed that the disclaimer means a councilor’s or city employee’s personal posts whether they are cute cat photos or political statements are their own, not reflecting city positions. He also clarified the process for removing someone from office. He said the city had received some comments suggesting that the council should remove Broyles from office.

“That is not the council’s role at all,” Schwiesow said. “The council people who are elected serve at the pleasure of the citizens who elected them.” He said councilors either serve by ward or at large, as elected by the voters, and if residents are upset with a councilor, the voters are the ones who can start the removal process, not the council.

He added that citizens could petition to remove someone from office, with the number of signatures requiring 25 percent of the total number of people who voted in the prior election.

Councilor Kristina Daniel said she did not agree with nor did she condone Councilman Broyles’ posts, but he was taking accountability for his actions.

She said she hoped he could earn back the trust of the community members who were affected by his posts.

Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley agreed with Daniel and said she also hoped Broyles could win the people’s trust back going forward.

Councilman Jan Vigil also disagreed with Broyles’ post but added that he appreciated Broyles’ apology and believed this incident reminded councilors to watch what they say.

Mayor Ty Coleman said, “This is a challenging situation … I hope our community can move forward from this situation.”

Coleman said Broyles’ Facebook posts did not reflect the core values of the council, and he too received a phone call and an apology from him.

Councilman Charles Griego said the council accepted the apology, but it also needed to make sure something like this does not happen again. He said he was born and raised in this community and he had not seen this kind of thing here before and did not want to see it again.

“It’s wrong, and it hurts everybody,” he said. “It’s detrimental. We shouldn’t put up with that.”