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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

What kind of message is GOP leadership sending?

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Dear Editor:

I am writing to respond to Mr. and Mrs. Vic Ullrey's letter to the editor that was published in the June 15 issue of the Delta County Independent entitled, "Right to free speech is under attack."

Mr. Ullrey, who is committee vice chairman of the Delta County Republican Central Committee, and his wife were writing in strong support of Linda Sorenson, chairwoman of the Delta County Republican Central Committee. Ms. Sorenson was recently outed for posting an overtly racist internet meme.

I believe that Mr. and Mrs. Ullrey have missed the point entirely. I do believe that our First Amendment right to free speech protects both the Ullreys' and Ms. Sorenson's ability to be overtly offensive to groups of people who are not just like them. The issue is not whether our Delta County Republican leaders believe that their right to free speech is under attack. I believe that the real issue is why do the Delta County Republican leaders want to make diverse families such as mine unwelcome? Would they run us out of town if they could?

Yes, citizens like Mr. and Mrs. Ullrey and Ms. Sorenson absolutely have the right to have negative opinions against minorities and to voice those opinions as loudly as they can! But is this how their constituents also feel? If they choose to retain Mr. Ullrey and Ms. Sorenson as their leaders, then the answer is clear -- HELL YES!, minorities are not welcome in Delta County. Sure, our Republican leaders have the right to tell us to "get the hell out of Dodge," but what is wrong with treating people with fairness and dignity?

Having lived in this county for as long as we have, my family has experienced firsthand the struggles of minorities living in a community that lacks significant diversity. Perhaps our community can at least agree to try and tolerate a little ethnic diversity within its midst. Inclusion is another issue that could take more generations to change, but in all fairness we have to start somewhere. As an analogy, think of diversity as being permitted to show up for the dance. Inclusion would mean actually being invited TO dance.

To retain Mr. Ullrey and Ms. Sorenson in their leadership positions will send an extremely clear message to our community, to our state and to our nation, that only some people are welcome here. What a sad and embarrassing time for those of us who are working to make our Delta County communities a better place for all its citizens.

Ken Richards

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