I’m writing to express concern over the recent hiring of City Administrator Drew Nelson.
To Mr. Nelson: I don’t pretend to know your heart; none of us know the particulars of your situation, except what is contained on your public legal record. Our mayor and city council members have told us that they know more than we do about your situation. However, instead of giving us that information for us to analyze and process ourselves, our city council has taken our power away by appointing you without our consent on what I hope you would agree is a singular, unique, extraordinary issue.
To the council members and Mayor Wood: I am a Salida citizen concerned for our safety, our children and the welfare of our families and our city. The details we have about Mr. Nelson are only what are given to us by news and media sources and his public legal record. All the rest is hearsay. However, since Mr. Nelson’s appointment, the message from you has been, “Trust us. What you read about Mr. Nelson is not true. We know better. You are safe. He is great. Trust us.”
This has been triggering for many of us, regardless of whether we are assault survivors or not. You hired a person who will represent and serve our city who has a public history of violence and disturbance. You did so without the consideration of your citizens who elected you. And then, after the hiring process was through, you told us not to worry, that you knew best. You took away our voices. You took away our right to know about who represents our community. You disrespected your citizens by not engaging us in a conversation about these issues concerning Mr. Nelson before you hired him.
You went about this the wrong way, Mr. Mayor and city council members. I hope you would consider having a mediated open forum for us to hear directly from Mr. Nelson all the “true information” that you all know about him, that we, the Salida citizens, do not. We deserve to interview Mr. Nelson for this job, as his public record of violence is a concern for our community’s safety. We deserve to learn the truth ourselves instead of just being told by the powers that be, “Don’t worry. You’re safe.”
To Mr. Nelson again: I bring no judgment against you in this statement. I am solely asking you to give us the courtesy of the whole truth, your whole story, so that we, the Salida citizens and your new neighbors, can devise our opinions with all the appropriate information. We deserve much more than a dismissive, patronizing “Don’t worry.”
Our elected city council officials, and their appointed hirees, are doing us a great disservice if they discredit our concerns by going forward with business as usual without pausing for this community to learn more important information about this matter.