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Otay Water District board censures member Hector Gastelum after Kamala Harris post

Posted at 3:52 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 21:18:58-04

Special meeting called by Otay Water District over derogatory remarks published on social media towards Kamala Harris made by director Hector Gastelum

Posted by 10News – ABC San Diego KGTV on Friday, August 21, 2020

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — Otay Water District board members voted Friday to censure a director after he made derogatory remarks published on social media towards Kamala Harris.

Voting 3-1 during a special meeting, the Board of Directors approved a resolution to censure Director Hector Gastelum for official misconduct. Gastelum was the only "no" vote.

This is the third time in three years that the board has censured Gastelum.

The water district found themselves this month once again fielding complaints over social media posts by Gastelum, following the announcement that Harris will be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's running mate.

In a scathing response, Director Mitch Thompson read past social media posts that Gastelum has made that have sparked backlash from the community.

"You should be ashamed of yourself. You're tarnishing the image of our agency. You need to cease and desist on your comments," Thompson said in comments directed toward Gastelum during a Zoom meeting. "I'm proud of this agency. Stop tarnishing this agency by doing juvenile activities. Be a man and learn how to conduct yourself in a distinguished and reasonable manner, whether you stay on this board or not."

Thompson added that "as long as Director Gastelum is on our board we will continue experiencing Groundhog Day."

Following the vote, Gastelum said in a statement that he stood by his social media post:

"I am disappointed there’s more outrage of me describing Senator Kamala Harris record of dating a married man for career advancement than at Kamala Harris & former San Francisco Mayor Brown for committing adultery. I stand 100% behind my comments on Kamala Harris about her reprehensible home-wrecking actions. My criticism of Kamala Harris is 100% related to her lack moral character as a person who’s willing to destroy a family in order to achieve career advancement. My criticism of Kamala Harris has nothing to do with the color of her skin, ethnicity, gender or orientation, religion or lack thereof, and all the other protected classes. Women should be treated with dignity, respect and professionalism."

In 2017, Gastelum was criticized and censured for hateful posts against Muslims reading, "Let’s pressure our legislators to prevent #subhuman #scum from #USA to #MAGA." He also tweeted: "This is how the left learns #Muslim #Islam #Sharia aren't compatible with any form of #civilsociety #equality."

Following those posts, the Chula Vista City Council also called for Gastelum to resign.

In a statement Friday, Board President Gary Croucher said Gastelum cannot be removed from the board because he holds an elected position.

"We are aware that the public demands for Director Gastelum to be removed from the Board, but because he is not an employee of the District, and is an elected official voted into office by the voters of Division 4, his position on the Board is governed by laws and regulations outside control of the District or of other Board members," Croucher wrote.

Friday's censure applies through November 2020, which is when three of the five divisions in the District’s service area will be up for election.

Gastelum's current term on the board runs through 2020.