CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - A South Bay public official is doubling down on anti-Muslim comments as he prepares a campaign to become Chula Vista's mayor.
Hector Gastelum resisted calls to resign from the Otay District Water Board in 2017 after his tweets referred to Muslims as sub-human scum. He just qualified for the June run-off to become the Mayor of Chula Vista, the county's second largest city.
In an interview, Gastelum said he isn't backing down from his prior controversial comments.
"How can you not condemn rape? How can you not condemn pedophilia? Or throwing gays from the roof," Gastelum said, clarifying he is not referring to all Muslims. "If people don't like what I stand for, they can vote for the person that's going to take more taxes from them."
Hanif Mohebi, who runs the San Diego chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations, called Gastelum's comments bigoted and hateful.
"Are we referring to other criminals by their religion?" he said. "(Charleston church shooter) Dylan Roof and many others. Are we referring to others by their religion? If not, then why are we singling out this community and referring to them by their religion."
Gastelum is running against Incumbent Mary Salas, teacher Arthur Kende, and Parks Supervisor Daniel Schreck for the seat. The top two vote-getters in June move on to a November runoff.
Gastelum's campaign statement has no anti-Muslim comments. Instead, it talks about cutting taxes, eliminating Chula Vista's welcoming city program, and bringing Amazon back to the table to put its headquarters here.
The Otay Water District board censured Gastelum last year. The Chula Vista City Council also called for him to resign. Gastelum's term on the board goes through 2020.