City to stand for core values

ALAMOSA — The City of Alamosa will take a stand against the kind of hatred and violence recently manifested in Charlottesville, Virginia.

During a special meeting to deal with another matter Wednesday night, Alamosa Councilman Jan Vigil suggested that in light of what happened in Charlottesville, Alamosa should take a public stand against hatred and bigotry as other communities and groups have done.

Alamosa Attorney Erich Schwiesow said city staff could draft a resolution for the council to consider at its next meeting.

“The KKK, white nationalists, Alt-Right, all that type of stuff, maybe we should communicate … Alamosa is not a place for that,” Vigil said.

Councilor Kristina Daniel agreed that she did not support hatred, bigotry or violence but said the council should be considerate of free speech and that people who want to share their opinion have a right to do so “even if I disagree with it.”

She added, “I just don’t want people to think they can’t share their opinion.”

Vigil said current events have come up in his classroom, and his students are amazed at what they were seeing, because they had never encountered that before. He said the students talked about free speech but also discussed that it is all right to “call out the speech that’s hatred.”

Councilman Charles Griego said it is not against freedom of speech but against racism and hatred.

“Should we even get involved in something like this?’ Vigil asked.

Schwiesow mentioned a recent situation in Colorado Springs where the Cheyenne Mountain Resort that was going to host a VDARE conference (VDARE, named after Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World, states it is for “patriotic immigration reform” and defending “the traditional American community”) but cancelled it, and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said no city funds would be spent on such a conference if it were held in the Springs. Schwiesow said it might have been hard for the city to hold to that promise since there probably would have been costs to the city in law enforcement, utilities and other costs if such a conference, or any conference, were held there. Schwiesow pointed out that would probably be the case anywhere, regardless of the city’s stance, but that didn’t mean the city council couldn’t take a stand.

City Manager Heather Brooks said there are examples that Alamosa could follow in wording a resolution so that the city supports core values that do not include hatred and racism.

Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero wondered if this was the city council’s job. He said he agreed with what other councilors were saying but wondered if the city would be opening the door to other moral issues.

“Is that really our job?” he asked.

Schwiesow said the mayor had a point, and the council would have to decide where it drew the line making statements about moral issues.

Daniel said, “If we don’t do this as leaders in our community, who’s going to?”

She said if the city council did not stand up for core values, “how can we expect our community to?”

Councilman Ty Coleman said, “I believe our actions are more powerful than words.”

He said if the council is going to make a difference in the community, it must do so by living an example of being respectful and professional, because that is more powerful than what the council might put in writing.

Councilor Michael Stefano said he believed “what we put out is what we get back,” and if individuals show kindness, that is what they receive.

The city council unanimously approved a motion directing staff to bring back a resolution for review on this subject.

Schwiesow said the council’s vote Wednesday did not bind them to pass the resolution. They would still have the opportunity to approve or deny it when it came before them.