San Diego

Otay Water District Board Member Censured for Controversial Tweet

The agenda item asks other elected officials to consider whether to remove Hector Gastelum from his public office on a temporary or permanent basis.

The Otay Water District board has voted to censure board member Hector Gastelum.

Gastelum faced widespread criticism in February after tweeting Muslims were "#SubhumanMonsters."

In a statement to NBC 7 San Diego, Gastelum said his words were not meant to be seen as malicious or disqualifying and urged those upset by the comment to move on.

"I exercised my constitutionally protected right of free speech when I posted my comment," the statement read. "I was very specific in the type of conduct I was condemning and my outrage was targeted against the perpetrators of sexual assault/rape, throwing homosexuals from roofs, pedophilia and terrorism. Further, I extended an apology to anyone who hurt their feelings by misinterpreting the content of my tweet (and hyperlink), I reached out to the Imam on numerous occasions have tea to no avail. There is nothing malicious or disqualifying about my comments and I believe it is time to move on, as I am exclusively focused on serving the good people of Chula Vista and our Otay Water customers & employees"

In an agenda packet made public Friday, the Otay Water District prepared a resolution for consideration by its board that would declare Gastelum's comments unrepresentative of the water district serving the southern portion of the county.

The resolution states Gastelum's "public behavior is reprehensible and intolerable."

The board item asks other elected officials to consider whether to remove Gastelum from his public office on a temporary or permanent basis.

Gastelum also accused Muslims of being rapists and murderers, among other comments.

During the Monday special meeting, board member Mitch Thompson read a lengthy three page resolution that blasted Gastelum, calling his comments reprehensible and intolerable.

All the while, Gastelum sat in his seat, reactionless.

Nearly two dozen spoke before the board, many to call on Gastelum to resign.

"We can not tolerate bigotry and hate speech against any religion, anyone of any religion, in this country," said Dave Patterson with San Diego Veterans for Peace. "That's one of the concepts of our constitution, that people are welcome here no matter what."

The board voted to censure Gastelum. 

Gastelum won his seat in District 4 in November with 56 percent of the vote.

The area he represents is located east of Interstate 805 and south of the Sweetwater Reservoir.

Gastelum, 42, of Chula Vista is a Republican and a real estate agent.

In 2012, he ran against state Senator Ben Hueso for senate.

During a campaign debate against Hueso, he said women should take lesser jobs so they can be home more to raise children.

Gastelum's post on Twitter on Feb. 19 was also linked to an article that connected violence in Sweden to Muslim refugees. But credibility of that article has been questioned since it was published last month.

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