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East County News Service

April 17, 2017 (Spring Valley) – The Otay Water District today voted 4-1 to formally censure director Hector Gastelum for official misconduct over racist remarks that he made to media, on social media, and in the March 1st board meeting.  Gastelum opposed the measure.  The resolution called his actions “reprehensible and intolerable.”

Gastelum also faces a recall effort launched by voters in the district.  “Now we begin the recall. We will have him removed and recalled 180 days from today and have already raised 15K for the recall,” James Ellia stated in an email sent to East County Democratic Club members.

Approximately 20 people spoke today in favor of censuring Gastelum.  The resolution authorizes Board President Mark Robak to consider removing Gastelum from committee assignments and official duties, though he will still be allowed to vote, since only voters can remove an elected official from office.

The controversy began in February when Gastelum sent a message on Twitter that read, “Lets pressure OUR Legislators to increase list of so-called #MuslimBan to prevent #SubHuman #Scum from #USA to #MAGA.” 

Gastelum, a realtor elected in 2016, did not apologize at the March 1 meeting, where angry residents turned out. 

Today, Gastelum issued this statement:  “I exercised my constitutionally protected right of free speech when I posted my comment.  I was very specific in the type of conduct I was condemning and my outrage was targeted against the perpetrators of sexual assault/rape, throwing homosexuals from roofs, pedophilia and terrorism.”

Gastelum adds that he apologizes to anyone who “hurt their feelings by misinterpreting the content of my tweet,” adding that he reached out to an Imam and asked to have tea, to no avail.  He claims there is “nothing malicious or disqualifying” about his comments.

Ellia says he took this task of launching a recall against Gastelum because as a first-born-in America son of Chaldean immigrants, “I want ALL REPUBLICANS to be on notice. You want to act like Trump? You want to be an open racist? You want to insult your voters? Well WE THE PEOPLE will fight you every step of the way. The local Democratic party in San Diego will be an example of what a party should be to the rest of the nation,” he concludes.

View full text of the resolution to censure Gastelum in the board packet:  http://otaywater.gov/wp-content/uploads/files/agendas/Agenda%20Special%20Board%20Pkt,%204-17-17.pdf