In response to a contentious meme that showed four pride flags rearranged to make a swastika and was posted by the mayor of Baker City in Eastern Oregon last month, the mayor made his resignation official late on Tuesday.
When he announced his resignation at a municipal council meeting, Mayor Matt Diaz did not address the controversy; instead, he just informed the 10,000-person city’s citizens that he would be leaving and could no longer serve.
After Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer resigned on Monday in response to public outcry over abusive postings he made to a private Facebook group for retired or active law enforcement personnel, Diaz is the second mayor of Oregon to resign this week.
The tweet below confirms the news:
The mayor, Diaz, who took office in April, declared he would serve out the remainder of the week in that capacity.
“As of July 17th, 2023, I will no longer be a Baker City working resident, and therefore am ineligible to serve on the city council,” Diaz said. “I am grateful for the time here and the friendships I have built.”
In a statement released on June 20, Diaz said that his comparison of pride flags to Nazi symbolism was “meant to illustrate how the DEI or ‘woke’ ideology is being propagandized and militantly forced on American society.” Additionally, he declared that he is “not a Nazi sympathizer or supporter,” and he continued, “I also hold no hate for those who choose a different lifestyle, religion, or sexual preference than my own.”
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Diaz Denies Controversy Was Factor in Resignation
When asked for comment on Tuesday, Diaz stated that the controversy had nothing to do with his decision. He said that he started looking for work weeks before the social media post and that he was leaving the city for a better paid job to support his wife and four children. Diaz, a former preacher who served in the Navy, operates the Get Smoked BBQ food truck in Baker City.
Both advocates for Diaz and those demanding for his resignation spoke during the meeting. Beverly Calder, a member of the Baker City Council, claimed that at least twelve letters from citizens asking for his resignation were sent.
After Calder lost his re-election bid on April 11, Diaz assumed the position of mayor. Baker City’s city council members appoint the mayors, not the voters. After submitting a letter to the editor to the Baker City Herald about a $1 million shortage in the city’s general fund, as the Herald reported, Calder was removed from office.
According to Sawyer, the former mayor of Newport, “My online persona has become too polarizing for me to continue.” Sawyer resigned on July 10 and issued an apology to Newport citizens after a string of nasty statements to a private police Facebook account.
His posts, according to Sawyer, were “vile and dark.”
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