By Mister Phillips
I first registered as a Democrat in 1996. I was 18 years old then. Now I am a deacon, husband, father, veteran, attorney, and Democratic Party official. I have the honor and privilege of representing the people of West Contra Costa County, including Richmond, California, on the Democratic Party County Central Committee and the Democratic Party State Central Committee.
Overall, my experience with the Democratic Party has been positive. As a political party, “[w]e [Democrats] take pride in and celebrate our diversity and work to foster the common values and commitments that unite all people regardless of their age, cultural heritage, national origin, disability, socio-economic status, gender, race, sexual orientation or views on religion.”
That is why I was saddened by the recent comments of my fellow Democrat, West County Wastewater District Director Leonard Battaglia. According to the article,
“$1,100 an hour? Part-time service at little agencies means big bucks and benefits for politicians” in the San Jose Mercury News:
[Mr. Battaglia] repeatedly used slurs during an interview to describe Asian people. He was also critical of African Americans, who make up a large part of his Richmond [California] constituency.”I flew with black pilots [in the Korean War]. I’d say ‘break’ (suddenly turn right or left) and they’d hesitate. They’d miss it because they think slower. They have an African-American mentality. They can’t help it. It’s the way God made them,” he said. “Like in Richmond. It’s a mess.” When a reporter later asked Battaglia about those remarks, he said, “I am not a prejudiced person.”
He said he intends to seek another term on the board next year and insisted his constituents should not be offended by his comments because he is only saying “how things are.”
That kind of language has no place in today’s Democratic Party. We have come too far as Democrats, and more importantly as Americans, to allow anyone to turn back the clock on racial progress.
Therefore, while I thank Mr. Battaglia for his many years of service, I will be working with like-minded individuals to identify a more respectful and more progressive candidate to support in the upcoming West County Wastewater District election.