There’s no place for racism in this day and age — especially not in our State Capitol.
Yet on Februrary 26th, at a meeting of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, State Senator Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside said: “The poor are more likely to commit crimes, and colored most likely to be poor.” Later he doubled down on his offensive language, clarifying “that’s not just the negro.”
Can you believe it? Not only is this language incredibly offensive, it’s spreading the worst stereotypes about people of color. And here’s the irony: People of color make up the majority of Jim Honeyford’s district. With attitudes like these, how can he truly understand and fight for the people he’s supposed to represent?
While voters across the state immediately demanded that Honeyford leave office, his Republican leadership remained silent. Not a peep.
Even worse, instead of proving that there is no room for the attitudes of Jim Honeyford in their party, Republicans turned and blocked a vote on the state Voting Rights Act THE VERY NEXT DAY. This simple bill is targeted to address unfair aspects of our elections system — breaking the stereotypes and ignorance perpetuated by people like Jim Honeyford.
Republicans need to understand that it’s 2015, not 1965, and they cannot condone this behavior within their party.
Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the Selma march, where 600 brave souls risked their lives and marched for the right to vote. While we celebrate how far we’ve come, we are reminded by Republican leaders how far we still have to go.
The Yakima Valley – and our state – deserve better. It’s time to open the door to a new generation of leadership.