The apology from Councilor Wildenhain and your response, to date, to this incident are inadequate,” writes the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus. “Given the serious affront the remarks Councilor Wildenhain made to Councilor Vasquez and (by extension) to significant portions of the population of Pawtucket, much more should be done.”


The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus sent the following open letter to Pawtucket City Council President David Moran, in support of Pawtucket City Councilor Elena Vasquez due to the appalling way fellow City Councilor Mark Wildenhain treated her at an event.

During her time as a city councilor in Pawtucket, Elena Vasquez has introduced resolutions in support of financial literacy, universal pre-kindergarten, and official observances of Women’s History and Hispanic Heritage Month. She hosted the first Guatemalan Independence Flag Raising Event at Pawtucket City Hall. She also hosted and collected hundreds of products for the homeless in Pawtucket.

We stand with Councilor Elena Vasquez and encourage you to show your support of her valuable work by contributing to her campaign fund. You can pay online or by a check/money order payable to Friends of Elena Vasquez, which can be mailed to 40 Pine St, Pawtucket, RI 02860. (Note that the maximum allowed by the law of the City of Pawtucket is $200 per person, per year.)


Dear Pawtucket City Council President David Moran,

On December 16, 2019, at Arigna Irish Pub & Coal Fire Kitchen, Councilor Mark J Wildenhain of the 2nd Council District of Pawtucket, threw two $1 bills in the face of Councilor Elena Vasquez and told her to “take a bus back to Colombia” in front of several elected dignitaries and their guests.

The actions and statements made by Councilor Wildenhain toward Councilor Vasquez are unacceptable – at any time, in any space, and toward anyone.

The apology from Councilor Wildenhain and your response, to date, to this incident are inadequate. Given the serious affront the remarks Councilor Wildenhain made to Councilor Vasquez and (by extension) to significant portions of the population of Pawtucket, much more should be done.

We are all impacted by our visible identities, such as race, gender and age, and invisible identities, such as income or experience. Our access to power and privilege is impacted by centuries-old systemic racism, classism, sexism, ableism, and ageism – to name a few. We are socialized to carry bias for and against these systems.

It is difficult work to notice, call-out, dismantle, and unlearn these biases. This difficult work is a responsibility that leadership must take to fulfill their obligation to best serve their communities.

The purpose of this letter is to reflect on the December 16th incident, to call-out that it should never have happened, to stand in support of Councilor Vasquez and her community, and to encourage action toward personal and community growth and engagement in this difficult work, so that incidents like these will become increasingly rare and ultimately extinct.

We support the resolution proposed by Councilor Vasquez, condemning the comments of Councilor Wildenhain that have vocalized bigotry, aggression and hatred of communities of color and women.

We request that the resolution be voted on by the Council to condemn the egregious behavior by Councilor Wildenhain and be voted on by the Council in full. 

Sincerely,

The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus


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