The hiring of Drew Nelson created a perfect storm to let loose the anger so many of us were feeling about the Kavanaugh appointment and a year’s worth of “Me Too” revelations about abuse of women by men. The simultaneous presentation of the news of Mr. Nelson’s hiring and the news of the domestic violence charge* in his recent history hit like a bombshell. Who could blame anyone for the angry reaction that followed; I don’t.
Because anger can be a filter I see things through, in this case I’m erring on the side of not allowing it to guide my judgement. I simply do not know more about Mr. Nelson than those he worked and lived in a community with, the law enforcement and legal entities involved in his case, his family members, his therapist and those who interviewed people who knew him well. The statements of those people do not paint a picture of an abusive, unstable man but an admirable one. We can all imagine scenarios that discount all of the above, and in the case of the previous mayor and his writers, spin absurd conspiracy theories, but speculation is also not truth. Records of the abuse charges were expunged – meaning removed completely – which can happen when evidence does not support a charge. He is guilty of firing a gun in his yard; and admittedly dangerous, unlawful and desperate act. The legal consequences have been levied. The personal and social consequences go on.
Council members have been portrayed by some as ill-intended and reckless in their hiring decision. They’ve been vilified, laughed at and name-called by some of those who are asking for respect. Is Council guilty of lacking awareness of potential social consequences and personal pain? Apparently, yes. Were they blinded by optimism in light of the potential for Salida’s city management to be in experienced hands at a time when that is desperately needed? Most certainly yes. Were they willfully reckless and self-serving? No, I sincerely believe they were not. I feel for those angered by the decision and applaud their bravery in voicing it, and I feel for those who have experienced the pain of violence. I am also one.
On Salida’s council and staff there have been men who bullied and intimidated women and those who sat by and allowed it to happen. They neither acknowledged nor apologized for their actions. Those men are poor examples for our community. To me, a man who admits his mistakes, apologizes, works through a legal and therapeutic process to heal and gives his all to a job in a town that has yet to welcome him and his family sets a positive example. I believe that when a man heals, all women are safer and all men are raised up. And I believe such a man is capable of doing good work. I respect our differing opinions. I hope we can all feel heard and can be generous in helping each other heal.
Editor’s Note: the charge was ‘felony menacing-domestic violence,’ a single charge having to do with the firearm.