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El Cajon Mayor Announces Resignation Amid Accusations Of Racist Comments

Downtown El Cajon, CA.

Photo courtesy Susan Williams/Flickr.

Above: Downtown El Cajon, CA.

EL CAJON — Longtime El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis has resigned amid accusations that he made prejudicial comments about the East County city's large Chaldean community, it was reported Friday.


Letter Of Resignation From El Cajon Mayor Lewis

Letter Of Resignation From El Cajon Mayor  Lewis

El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis announces his resignation, citing health reasons.

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Lewis, who has been mayor since 1998, resigned for "health reason'' in a letter sent to U-T San Diego Thursday night, according to the newspaper, which said Lewis pointed to a minor stroke in 2010, cancer and a dislocated shoulder.

"Unfortunately, at times, this has caused me some difficulties in clearly communicating my thoughts, including during the recent interviews that have caused understandable concern within our community and for which I have already apologized," he said in the letter.

It was unclear when the resignation would take effect.

Another letter from the mayor was posted on El Cajon's website earlier Thursday. In it, Lewis made no mention of resigning but apologized to anyone he offended and says he did not intend his remarks to be insensitive.

Lewis was quoted in The Progressive magazine in May as saying that some Chaldean schoolchildren who receive free lunches are "being picked up by Mercedes-Benzes.'' It also quoted the mayor as saying, "First time (the Chaldeans) come over here, it doesn't take them too long to learn where all the freebies are at.''

In his letter, posted on the city's website, Lewis explained his comments to the magazine as "I was simply expressing my opinion that I believe that the limited social services made available to our residents in El Cajon should go to those most in need of them, including those within the Chaldean community.''

An estimated 50,000 Chaldeans — or Iraqi Catholics — live in San Diego County and of those, 10,000 to 15,000 are El Cajon residents.

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | October 25, 2013 at 8:48 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

The El Cajon mayor issues aside. Why are they sending Iraqi refugees to one of the least affordable cities in the United States?

It would be better for them to go to Phoenix, AZ, where I used to live. The climate is more like Iraq's (hot summers, mild winters), the cost of living is about 50% less than San Diego (cheaper rents, cheaper houses, cheaper gasoline). Food is about the same, but taxes are a little higher. But income taxes are lower.

And last I checked, unemployment was lower in Phoenix than in San Diego.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 25, 2013 at 11:34 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

I hope the Mayor of El Cajon is truly retiring due to health reasons and not because of the ridiculous accusations of a few refugees who don't like El Cajon.

But the more important topic is refugee placement. Why has the US government singled out San Diego to be burdened with more than our fair share of refugees?

We are one of the least affordable regions in America. Rent, utilities, and transportation costs are high and we are a high-tech city requiring education and skills that most refugees don't have. Plus we are already overburdened with illegal aliens.

It is time we San Diegans say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and demand that refugees be sent elsewhere!

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Avatar for user 'domke'

domke | October 25, 2013 at 1:52 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Burden to whom? You know what's a burden? Having participated in several mindless adventures overseas with consequences. As Americans, we should be embracing our recent immigrants who have to this country seeking more freedoms. Not giving them second class status because they don't look like our founding fathers. Or have technological skills like the "monkeys" on some high tech hill...

San Diego was one of the original destinations for Vietnamese refugees. With considerable pride, they came here determined for a new start. With our history as a resource for refugees, San Diego has the context for sharing democracy with all newcomers.

The kind of stupid ignorance in the above comments is the kind of intolerance I would personally send back to some hellhole with a swift kick if my foot could reach through the Internet.

As regrettable as it might be, America is a colonizer. Here's the fruit of our labor. Next time there's a brilliant war, think about it!

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Avatar for user 'domke'

domke | October 25, 2013 at 2:47 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Here's a history from one of several relief organizations in our community for those of you who need facts regarding all the countries we've been integral to providing some measure of human dignity:

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 25, 2013 at 3:49 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago


Burden to whom? Taxpayers, city services, natural resources, volunteers, police, hospitals, infrastructure, cost of living, transportation, the environment...shall I go on?

I am in total agreement with you that the US starts useless overseas wars every decade or so. With war comes refugees and we don't need more of either one.

Your ignorance lies in your thinking that any objection to refugees must be racial. Typical nonsense designed to avoid real discussion and debate. Why don't you compose yourself and try again.

Tell us why we need more refugees in San Diego. More than the 50,000 Iraqis brought here without any input from San Diegans. And that is from one war alone. We're the forced destination for refugees from across the world from Africa to Asia and the last thing we need in San Diego is more people, especially refugees.

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Avatar for user 'domke'

domke | October 25, 2013 at 10:09 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

If it's not somewhat racially biased and prejudice, then what is it honestly? I see and hear all sorts of slams on people of color and I'm supposed to take it that bigotry doesn't exist? I'm hardly "forced" to accept anyone. Maybe I am capable of tolerating people...

Glad to explain myself here. Here the burden we have as a country of immigrants with a manifest destiny is to expand. Unless we actually expand our borders we are stuck in the process of bringing folks into our way of life on our shores. That is - unless we can actually solve our issues overseas without destroying those countries.

Taxes are social lubricants. Our government and country is the best force in the world for prevailing liberty and freedom. As far as I concerned, my share of this burden is manageable. I don't complain because you know what? There isn't a constant whistling of drone strikes in my backyard!

I guess I'm really a lazy person to think my taxes actually work to preserve a way of life that is so easy compared to other places like Sudan, Iraq, and Mexico.

Tell me about the environmental issues you have?

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