With racial politics thick in the air, the Culinary union has endorsed a longtime police union lobbyist to replace expelled Assemblyman Steven Brooks in the Legislature.
In a letter to commissoners (pasted below), Culinary Political Director Yvanna Cancela informs the board that the labor organization is behind Michelle Jotz, who recently left the Police Protective Association, where she had been for seven years and was director of governmental affairs. She now works in Metro Internal Affairs.
Jotz is white, and it's clear that some commissioners, and perhaps Assembly leaders, would like to see a minority appointed to replace Brooks, who is half-Hispanic and half-African American. The district has been represented by a minority for more than a decade.
Cancela, now a nationally recognized labor leader in a union dominated by Hispanics, takes the race issue head-on:
"I have heard arguments made as to why a person of color should be chosen for AB17. I believe these have merit, but should not be the ultimate decision makers. Rather, I would hope that you make your decision based on who will best represent the residents of District 17. Voters will have the power to either affirm or negate your choice with their 2014 votes. Until then, I’ve no doubt you will select the most qualified candidate."
I understand that some Assembly folks would like to see Tyrone Thompson, an African-American who is the Regional Initiatives Coordinator for the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Commission, appointed. But much of this is up in the air because of questions about how to get the person a housing allowance (he or she will not be paid), whether the person will be a caretaker and, of course, whether the person can get the votes.
Cancela told me she sent the letter "to demonstrate our support for Michelle Jotz and hopefully highlights her application for the AD17 vacancy. I have a responsibility to our members in the district who due to a tremendously tragic situation have been without representation this session. I've no doubt Commissioners will carefully deliberate and ultimately make the best decision for AD17 residents."
Here's her entire letter:
I’m reaching out to all members of the Commission on the AD17 appointment.
I understand the sensitive nature of appointments. You have a difficult decision to make in what has been an undeniably sad situation.
As you prepare to review applications for filling the AB17 seat, I wanted to let you know that the Culinary Union is supporting Michelle Jotz. Jotz’s professional experience and character would make her an excellent Assemblywoman for District 17.
I met Michelle during the 2011 Legislative session. I was impressed by how she represented the members of the Police Protective Association. She was graceful yet firm when it came to discussing issues. She worked with other union leaders to protect PERS and PEBS for members. She was a team leader and terrific advocate. To me, this showed she could work with others to achieve common goals and keep the interests of those she represents before her own. I cannot think of better qualities for an Assemblywoman. Moreover, her experience will make her uniquely qualified to enter the 2013 session at midterm. She understands the legislative process and will be able to keep on top of issues as the Legislature comes to a rapid conclusion.
I have heard arguments made as to why a person of color should be chosen for AB17. I believe these have merit, but should not be the ultimate decision makers. Rather, I would hope that you make your decision based on who will best represent the residents of District 17. Voters will have the power to either affirm or negate your choice with their 2014 votes. Until then, I’ve no doubt you will select the most qualified candidate.
Michelle is a woman of integrity. She is honest and fair. I truly believe she is applying to be an Assemblywoman because she wants to continue in public service. I ask that you seriously consider her application in the coming weeks.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns.
Culinary Workers Union Local 226