Paso Robles Mayor responses to writer’s concerns 

PASO ROBLES — A Los Angeles Times article published on the front page last Sunday, March 20, has created controversy among residents of Paso Robles. The article titled “This California wine country town is multicultural. So why do so many feel invisible” written by LA Times staff writer Tyrone Beason after his visit to Paso.

Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin
Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, 2017

While the article described Paso Robles as idyllic, the writer noted the City’s lack of people of color despite the population of Paso Robles being almost 40 percent Mexican-Americans and Latinos. 

The article the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District’s (PRJUSD) controversial ethnic studies course and ban on Critical Race Theory (CRT). With comments and interviews with PRJUSD Board President Chris Arend, ethnic study course teacher Geoffrey Land, a local student of the course, Paso Robles High School athletic coach Juanetta Perkins, resident Michael Rivera, and Cal Poly instructor and psychologist Susana Lopez.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Paso Robles Press received from Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, answering questions in response to the article:

Do you believe it was a fair representation of Paso?

Mr. Beason “writes about America through the lenses of race and culture.” This honest disclaimer at the end of the article in question informs the reader of his focus and point of view. The piece is a thought-provoking article and recounts the experiences of his subjects. It also illuminates the ongoing conversation regarding racism on a local level which continues in our city and many others. 

Could this hurt the community’s image and even tourism, as some of our readers fear?

There is that chance. A community’s image rises or falls as the product of its entire history dealing with a wide range of issues. That is fair and unavoidable. How we deal with racism is one of those issues.

Do you feel that the by-district council elections will lead to a greater voice for Latino residents?

It’s uncertain whether a community as small as Paso Robles will realize greater governmental diversity as the result of by-district elections. What is obvious is that, as stated in Mr. Pearson’s article, the Latino population in Paso Robles is significant. We would hope such numbers could translate into more Latino candidates and greater diversity on all governing boards.

Are there any initiatives supporting diversity, equity and inclusion that you would like to share?

Yes, there are many. Following the Black Lives Matter march in August of 2020 I pursued a platform to discuss racism in Paso Robles. I enlisted the support of citizens who, with the help of Paso Robles Schools Superintendent Dr. Curt Dubost, had formed a culture building task force. We worked together to create the Mayor’s Diversity Panel. Dr. Susana Lopez (one of those interviewed by Mr. Beason) is a founding member of the panel. I assisted with the drafting of the group’s mission and vision and created a website to provide information to local citizens. The group has staged various unity-building events including two recent community discussion evenings. (For more information please visit pasodiversity.com or email panel chair Sondra Williams at sondra212@gmail.com. Once the committee was well-established I stepped back to empower its leadership to steer the panel. I continue to support it.

The Paso Robles Police Department has established its own diversity panel. More information is available from the Police Chief Nord (dnord@prcity.com).

The City of Paso Robles provides interpretation service for non-English speakers at public meetings and has the capacity to teleconference with interpreter services for non-English speakers who inquire about city services. City Councilwoman Maria Garcia, co-founder of the Hispanic Business Association, is also bi-lingual.

I have also attempted to involve a more diverse cross-section of our community. When openings become available on city commissions and advisory bodies, I request applicants from the entire population, but specifically I transmit application information to the Diversity Panel.

I continue to support the City’s participation in events such as the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Juneteenth as a means to increase community understanding and unity. I support efforts to develop other multi-cultural celebrations and educational events.

I continue to use my Mayor’s Blog (created at no expense to taxpayers) to address issues of racism and community unity. Examples include:

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

martinformayor.org/mayors-blog/page/3/

Community Unity

martinformayor.org/mayors-blog/page/7/

martinformayor.org/mayors-blog/page/9/

Juneteenth

martinformayor.org/mayors-blog/page/14/

Diversity Panel

martinformayor.org/mayors-blog/page/27/

martinformayor.org/mayors-blog/page/28/

Black Lives Matter March

martinformayor.org/mayors-blog/page/36/