It appears that the Snohomish County Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night will not be revisiting the racially-charged remarks made by Commissioners David Chan and Bob Meador, which resulted in a failed effort to reprimand the two commissioners during a special meeting called last Friday, March 17.
According to Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes, the item was not added to Tuesday night’s regular meeting agenda. At the time of the 2-2 Friday vote, with one of the board’s five commissioners absent, there was speculation that the resolution would be revisited during the March 21 commission meeting.
At issue was a conversation recorded on video during a break in the Fire District’s March 7 commission meeting, when Chan and Meador were heard discussing the challenges related to hiring paramedics.
“Could we hire a Mexican paramedic?” Chan asked. “I dunno,” Meador replied, laughing. “It’s cheaper,” Chan responded, also laughing. “I don’t wanna,” Meador said. “I don’t want those immigrants. They can’t do the job.”
Chan and Meador both apologized for their remarks, describing the conversation as “banter” that wasn’t meant to offend anyone.
The topic of the fire commissioners’ behavior is expected to come up at Tuesday night’s Edmonds City Council meeting, where both Mayor Dave Earling and Councilmember Neil Tibbott said they planned to offer comments on the matter.
But three councilmembers offered their opinions via email.
“I am shocked by the offensive comments made by the two Fire District 1 commissioners,” said Councilmember Mike Nelson. “Their discriminatory remarks have no place in our society and they should be held accountable. It does not matter if they consider them ‘jokes’ or ‘banter.'”
“As elected representatives, we each have a duty to speak out and protect our residents against the rising discrimination happening all over because of their race, their religion, their gender, or that they are an immigrant,” Nelson added.
Councilmember Dave Teitzel noted that the city council recently passed a “Safe City” resolution “memorializing our strong commitment to acceptance and support of all our neighbors — regardless of ethnicity, religious belief, sexual orientation or immigration status.”
“We fully expect our city to be a model for those values and will do all in our power to support that vision,” Teitzel added. “Any entity doing business with or providing services for Edmonds should be expected to honor our commitment to diversity through its statements and actions–whether it may be a fire district, a water district or a provider of sanitation services. Behavior falling short of that standard is simply not acceptable.”
Added Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas: “Really it was so shocking there are no words.”
A two-term Fire District Commissioner, Chan said he plans to seek re-election this fall despite the controversy over the comments.
— By Teresa Wippel with reporting from Evan Smith and Natalie Covate