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Shasta County Pride Month motion fails to pass

The full Shasta County Board of Supervisors.
Shasta County Board of Supervisors
The full Shasta County Board of Supervisors.

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors voted 2-2 Tuesday morning on a proclamation declaring June 2022 as Pride Month. The tie vote means the motion failed to pass.

A similar motion passed last year, before Board Member Leonard Moty was recalled and replaced by Tim Garman.

Mary Rickert was one of the sponsors of the motion, and she told JPR that the vote was a black mark on Shasta County.

"I'd like to believe that we're more welcoming and more tolerant than this kind of activity seems to show. We're very divided. And I think this was an opportunity to come together and unite and to be supportive of each other. And I was disappointed that we weren't able to," she said.

Board members Joe Chimenti and Rickert voted for the proclamation, while Patrick Jones and Garman voted against it, with Chairman Les Baugh absent.

"I think a lot of people bring their religious beliefs into a governmental setting. I'm a practicing Catholic. But if you read the resolution, it really didn't say much other than that we supported this community and the contributions that they make to Shasta County," Rickert said.

Nineteen people spoke about the motion during the public comment session, with 12 appearing to be in favor of it.

Elizabeth Walker, who spoke during public comment, urged the board not to approve the motion.

"It has no place here. It is not the job of the county to praise people for their sexual conduct," she said.

Bonnie Hyatt, Director of Youth Services for the LGBTQIA+ Center in Shasta County, encouraged the board to vote in favor of the motion.

"This resolution may not be a big deal for some people, but it's a very big deal to my youth. This resolution would tell them that they are loved and accepted in their community," she said. "It could stop one suicide. It could stop the self-harm."

A speaker who identified herself only as Jennifer and said she was the daughter of Supervisor Baugh also urged the board to create "a safe space" by passing it.

"I was born and raised in Shasta County to parents who taught me that anything other than heterosexual love was wrong. I was taught that my sexuality was a thing to be ashamed of. It took me a long time to reject those ideas and to find confidence within myself," she said.

Chimenti co-sponsored the motion, saying, "We're supposed to foster and support a culture of acceptance and respect, and that's what we're doing here this morning, in my opinion."

"I want to support a resolution that includes all of our society, not just a portion of it," Garman said when explaining why he did not support the motion. "Something that's going to divide us, I'm not going to be interested in supporting."

After the motion failed to pass, Rickert made a motion to bring the discussion back to the board for a vote when all five members were present, but that too failed.

Baugh and Chimenti will be retiring this year, so there will be runoff elections in November to fill their two seats.

Jane Vaughan began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media. Jane earned her Master's in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.