(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, file)

Arizona city leaders want lawmaker out over race comments

Rep. David Stringer recently told Arizona State University students that African Americans "don't blend in"

December 04, 2018 - 3:46 pm

By BOB CHRISTIE ,  Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona city council voted Tuesday to demand the resignation of a Republican state lawmaker whose remarks on race and immigration have led to a growing backlash of criticism and the loss of his chairmanship on a key committee.

Tuesday's 6-1 vote by the Prescott City Council comes just days after the latest remarks by Rep. David Stringer were published by the Phoenix New Times. He had ignored calls for him to resign after similar comments this summer and was easily re-elected last month.

The council adopted a statement that called on Stringer to quickly step down so a replacement can be named before the legislative session begins in January because he can no longer effectively represent the city or Yavapai County. Prescott is heavily Republican, has about 43,000 residents and is about 100 miles north of Phoenix.

"His abhorrent words do not reflect our city or our community and while we condemn them, that word, any word, is not strong enough to express our disdain," the council statement said. "As proud members of this community we are horrified that the opinions expressed by Mr. Stringer exist."

Stringer hasn't returned repeated calls from The Associated Press seeking comment since last week.

Stringer recently told Arizona State University students that African Americans "don't blend in" and said Somali immigrants don't look like "every other kid" as previous European immigrants do.

In the New Times story , backed up by audio recordings, Stringer is questioned by students about his views on immigration and race. He tells them that "diversity in our country is relatively new."

He was then asked about immigrants from eastern Europe who assimilated well in the 20th century.

"They were all European," Stringer said. "So after their second or third generation, everybody looks the same. Everybody talks the same. That's not the case with African-American and other racial groups because they don't melt in. They don't blend in. They always look different."

Asked why that matters, Stringer said he didn't know. He went on to discuss inner cities, white flight and how Latino voters will never support Republicans who back tighter immigration controls.

Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli at Tuesday's meeting that Springer has "forgotten the moral compass of our great county" as outlined by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence's statement that "all men are created equal."

"By his own words Mr. Stringer has defined himself as someone who is out of step with our community," Mengarelli said at Tuesday's packed meeting. "He has mortally wounded himself and disqualified himself to the point that he will be ineffective representing our issues at the state Legislature."

All but one other council member agreed, echoing the mayor's comments.

Councilman Phil Goode voted no, saying he didn't condone the remarks but Stringer's fate is up to the voters who elected him.

"He is directly responsible to the voters, and they have the responsibility to recall him over this issue if they choose," Goode said. "They re-elected him by a large margin with the understanding of his concerns about assimilation of immigrants that were widely published last June prior to his November election."

Stringer faced calls to resign in June from Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Republican Party chairman after he said that minority immigration had made integrating schools impossible. He refused, saying his comments were cherry-picked and that the immigration question "cries out for honest and open public discussion."

"Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities," he said in a video clip from a political event that sparked the June rebukes. "That complicates racial integration because there aren't enough white kids to go around."

After his latest remarks were made public, incoming Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers booted him from a key committee chairmanship, saying his comments were "vile" and "unacceptable."

Goode said he knows Stringer "reasonably well" and doubts he will resign.

"He didn't last June when the governor and the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party asked for his resignation ... so he's not likely to do so now," Goode said.


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