PICO RIVERA — The City Council here asked for the resignation of Councilman Gregory Salcido Feb. 13 amid a public backlash to his recent anti-military remarks at El Rancho High School, where he teaches.
Salcido told his colleagues and a crowded City Council chambers that he would not step down.
“I’m not anti-military,” Salcido said during his first public appearance at City Hall since the audio of his comments was posted on social media Jan. 26. “I am pro-education.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s took the extra security precaution of having people pass through metal detectors before entering City Hall, prior to the meeting. Accommodations were made for the overflow crowd, estimated by officials at about 300. Those who could not fit inside the council chambers were seated under a canopy outside City Hall and watched the proceedings on a large screen TV.
At times, the crowd could be heard cheering as they listened to speakers in the chambers, the Whittier Daily News reported.
The resolution the council passed 3-1-1 seeking his resignation said Salcido’s comments “have placed our city under a cloud of dishonor, disparagement, suspicion and criticism” and that “taking such a drastic step is an effort to restore the positive image of our city.”
Mayor Gustavo Camacho and Councilman Bob Archuleta, a veteran with two sons in the military, voted yes, along with and Councilman David Armenta, on the request for Salcido to resign. Councilman Brent Tercero abstained and Salcido voted no.
Tercero said he was abstaining because the resolution would have no impact, but added that he would be happy to sign a recall petition against Salcido and that he would write a check for $250 to a recall campaign.
The council heard from those for and against Salcido at the public forum. Fifty-five people came to the podium with 53 demanding he resign and two former students speaking in support of Salcido, according to the Daily News.
Salcido showed little emotion.
During his January rant, which began with Salcido criticizing a student wearing a U.S. Marine Corps T-shirt, Salcido called members of the military the “lowest of our low.”
“We’ve got a bunch of dumb s—s over there,” he said in the recording. “Think about the people who you know who are over there — your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever — they’re dumb. They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people. They’re the freaking lowest of our low.”
Speaking from his seat at the end of the council dais, Salcido said: “I don’t think it’s all a revelation that those who aren’t stellar students usually find the military a better option. … That’s not a criticism of anybody. Anything I said had nothing to do with their moral character.”
Speaking to reporters during a break in the meeting, Salcido said, “I do believe the military is not the best option for my students. … That does not mean I am anti-military, because I’m not.”
A former student of Salcido’s, Jeovany Zavala, was one of two people who spoke on behalf of Salcido.
“You taught me that I could be the best that I could be in school and in life without having to risk my life or to pursue what I thought was my only option,” Zavala said. “You taught me more than that and I’d like to thank you. I know I might stand alone in that decision tonight.”
Angry residents said they would pursue a recall campaign against Salcido if he would not step down on his own.