Elk Grove City Council Appointee Candidate Alleges Sexism, Racism in Complaint

May 6, 2013 | An Elk Grove resident who sought appointment to a vacancy on the Elk Grove City Council has filed a complaint with the city...

May 6, 2013 |

An Elk Grove resident who sought appointment to a vacancy on the Elk Grove City Council has filed a complaint with the city clerk's office alleging that she was treated in a sexist and racist manner during the January appointment process.

The complaint, which was filed last Wednesday by LaWanna Montgomery, alleges that the city council members treated her unfairly and that her "reputation has been severely damaged and personally scared by the negative publicity and comments from council members."

The complaint centers on the vacancy when Gary Davis vacated the city's District Four Council seat after being elected mayor. To fill that vacancy, the city council decided to fill the vacancy by appointment rather than hold a special election citing financial reasons.
LaWanna Montgomery

Although six eligible candidates sought the appointment, the council could not agree on any of them and decided to by a 3-1 vote to appoint former Elk Grove Unified School District Superintendent Robert Trigg with Council Member Jim Cooper being the sole dissenting vote. During the process the only candidate of the six appointees who was not nominated was Montgomery.

In a press release Montgomery, who has in the past run for the city council and most recently mayor, said she felt as though she had been singled out.

“One council member, in referring to the two women who applied, stated in a sexist offensive manner, “It’s like pickin’ a girl for the prom.[sic] Another council member remarked, after my daughter spoke on my behalf, that the reason I was the only candidate not put up for nomination, was because I had run for city council and if the voters wanted me on the council, they would have voted for me. That fact should have never entered into the discussion,” she said.

Her complaint acknowledges that she met with Vice Mayor Steve Detrick and "he did appear sincere in interviewing everyone equally." However, the complaint added "I was put on display like a slave, paraded around for bidders to partake in a system set up against me."

Davis, Detrick and council members Cooper and Pat Hume did not respond to email inquiries seeking comment on the matter.

In her press release Montgomery also noted that Trigg had not gone though a process she described as arduous process and entire proceedings were "not done in accordance with the agreed upon process set forth by the city council itself."

Although it is not known what legal remedy, if any, that could be offered by the city, in her complaint Montgomery offered a suggestion.   

"I need the city to apologize for the derogatory remarks towards me and to make sure no one else is humiliated like this again."

A copy of the complaint is below. Click to enlarge.

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Anonymous said...

It did seem to me that the appointment process and the criticism levied from the council did focus on the two women who applied.

As for the men who applied, only comments by way of compliments. That is, except for one man who didn’t apply and whose name the council was too fearful to mention when the condemnation was flying around council chambers; that being Roger Dickinson.

And the irony here is that Dickinson’s words were held again Nancy Chaires. So Steve Detrick and Patrick Hume, who are the councilman who made the negative comments that are the focus of Montgomery’s complaints, should not be surprised when their words are held against them.

Anonymous said...

I have attended counsel meetings for several years and have never seen Robert Trigg in attendance. I was superised to see that he accepted the appointment as he had never shown any interest in the past.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the fact that Ms. Montgomery's complaint is addressed to Ms. Jan Hobbs, City Attorney, should give one a clue that the author of the letter has little credibility. Our city attorney's name is Jonathan Hobbs. Mr. Hobbs is neither a female nor is his first name JAN. If you're going to complain about sexism, you should at least get the recipients sex correct in the salutation. Enough said about Ms. Montgomery's abilities.

SteveB6509 said...

With all due respect, I believe Ms. Montgomery is not considering the impact of the campaign sign fiasco on her credibility. I did not support the selection of Ms. Montgomery and it had nothing to do with her race or gender. It had to do with this incident and what it demonstrates about her as a person. We have enough crime in Elk Grove without an Elk Grove City Council candidate being involved.

Anonymous said...

To SteveB6509:

LaWanna Montgomery was cleared with District Attorney Jan Scully dropping all charges. She apparently was out of town at the exact time of the incident; and it seems she could prove as much.

The Scherman signs were illegal and she herself commented that they needed to be replaced during a council meeting. And then suddenly witnesses see Ms. Montgomery allegedly vandalizing them, but didn’t bother to video tape the incident or take any pictures with their cell phones, but managed to call 911 and reported seeing her car.

Never mind that Ms. Montomgery’s car has a personalized license plate that says, “LaWanna,” just like Sophia has one that says, “Sophia!”

And wala, press for Sophia Scherman, playing the victim once again!

Anonymous said...

To be factual at 10:43 above...the DA's office did not "drop the charges"; rather, in their press release it stated the crime was a simple misdemeanor that, due to extreme budget issues, the DA's office felt their were other civil remedies afford the victim (Ms. Scherman). Dropping of the charges and not filing charges are two separate and distinct issues. Let's keep the facts honest, please. You add credence to the argument that Ms. Montgomery lacks credibility when you make sweeping statements that can be easily be proven as inaccurate. THANK YOU!

Jill said...

Let me first state that yes, sexism and racism still exist in this so-called post racial period.

Having said that, Lawanna Montgomery was clearly unprepared in all of her council and mayoral races. The reasons why she was not selected or elected are abundantly clear.

The real damage that Lawanna has inflicted is that she cheapens legitimate claims of sexism and racism.

SteveB6509 said...

I agree fully with Jill - there is sexism and racism in our society but what Ms. Montgomery went through was neither.

Also, I am definitely not a fan of Sophia and I am glad she is gone.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate and respect Ms Montgomery's tenacity and perseverance. She has continually put herself before the public and has yet to earn enough votes needed to put her in the seat of an elected official. An important lesson in life is how to lose like a winner... it is a difficult thing to overcome, but to step away from an election with your head still held high can be challenging.

As to her claims of "sexism and racism" during the appointment process I believe they will be found to be non-existent. I was present for all of the public venues and did not find anyone in particular's comments "degrading...racist and sexist". The prom reference was a bit old school and not the best choice of words,but not "degrading". It could have applied to any of the candidates... I am of the school of thought that believes the person I vote for is based on their merits, their stance on particular issues and qualifications. Not their gender. There are plenty of women who either qualify, or are over qualified for the position, but for their personal reasons, choose not to run.
If Ms. Montgomery believes she was wronged, then by all means she should be able to express these concerns; but as a professional, she should definitely have someone double check, edit and fact check her letter writing. I wish her luck in her next campaign.

Anonymous said...

Playing the "race" card (or even "sex" card) can be a dangerous thing. It rarely succeeds. You must win/lose on your merits. I, too attended all of the public campaign events. Ms. Montgomery was one of the least informed on local issues. I distain the use of race or sex discrimination claims when none exist. Let's remember that the position was open due to Ms. Chaires not been appointed. I don't see her playing the race or sex card. I agree with Jill and SteveB above. Ms. Montgomery does not possess the skills, knowledge or integrity to be appointed to an open sit. She certainly has the right to continue to spend her own money to buy a chair at the council; but there was nothing suspect about her lack of support with the current members. Using the race/sex card will only diminish your credibility.

Anonymous said...

Ms Montgomery has a point in that the process was not followed. However, the deviation from the process had nothing to do with her race or sex. For her to think it was indicates to me she has no business running for this seat to start with. If you review her letter, there are many grammatical errors. Perhaps errors like these and the fact she had no idea what the SOI was swayed the council away from her as a candidate. Ms Montgomery seems like a nice woman, but she was not the best candidate in the pool. It has nothing to do with race, religion, sex, marital status or anything that resembles discrimination. In my opinion, she failed miserably in her knowledge of the issues that face this city. Period. End of sentence. Time to move on Ms Montgomery. The council does not owe you an apology for not picking you; however, the council still faces questions on why the process was not followed.

Silent Dogood said...

Wait, Wait, Wait...

LaWanna is a black woman who was not slected. A old white guy who didn't even apply for the position was appointed.

If this isn't sexism and racism then what is.

Oh wait, there is the fact that Lawanna had already been on the ballot twice and was never close to being elected. Oh, and the fact that she has no clue what the SOI is or that Jonathon Hobbs is a man not a woman.

But she did have her daughter speak and tell the Council that her mom was the best pick.

Sounds like someone thinks the City will settle quietly and she can make a little money in a "confidential" settlement.

If the City gives any credibility to this complaint the torches and pitch forks better come out.

Anonymous said...

I believe "the old white guy" was picked for the seat because he will fall in line and be a yes vote on anything to do with the SOI.

Anonymous said...

True and with the help of staff that he thanks 2-3 times each meeting. Very little discussion from him...just pretty much agrees with what others have said and casts a vote. I will say, he is a fine gentleman, just never understood why he accepted a position when he was never attended city council meetings and would never participate in any city politics.

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 10:06 - You nailed it. Look for a future agenda item to be brought back up to amend the city's SOI application to put the floodplain back in.

The vote will be 3-2, or worse 4-1 this time out, and the appointment of Robert Trigg, even if temporary, will have lasting effects.

Wake up Wilton Action Group!

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the two page complaint filed by Ms. Montgomery. Her letter should be exhibit #1 as to why she was not appointed. I'm sure she is a great mom/women, but she cannot honestly think sexism or racism played ANY part in this decision. She needs to take an introspective look at her skills, abilities and expertise. Reflecting on this letter alone, I would not have appointed her.

Joe said...

She is just being a very poor loser. The sign incident spoke volumes about her.

Anonymous said...

At one time in our history, many wondered why Rosa Park refused to give up her seat to a white man on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. I'm glad she did.

Anonymous said...

10:43 can you respond.Was Ms. Montgomery charges dropped or not filed? Which one? Let keep the facts, facts. The incident happened on a busy street, not matter what time of day or night many cars are at that intersection, some with a driver and passenger. It is clear no matter how you want to look at this a busy intersection with City street cameras and No pictures. People have cell phone cameras and no one took a pictures. Who is telling the truth here. Ms. Montgomery is a good women, she is an excellent mother and business owner. You can say many things, But this does not ADD UP. Also explain, why the candidate was being force to remove All her signs and BUY NEW SIGNS.

Anonymous said...

I hope you take the challenge or observe every time you're drive down Elk Grove Blvd. and Bruceville Road. Notice all 4 intersections. Notice the City Street Cameras on all sides. Notice this is a busy street day or night. Notice how many cars you see with drivers and passengers. Food for thought how many of those cars driving down the busy street have cell phone cameras?

Anonymous said...

Is not about the spelling in the letter. It should be about the complexity of the complaint. One of the council members said something like the voter did not want a woman or they would have voted one in. We had two women on the ballot, but they voted for Gary Davis. If this statement swayed the minds of the council not appoint a woman this is sex discrimination.

Joe-Bob said...

You people need to be informed before you write your crap. Two council members were steadfast to the point of nausea in attempt to get PC Nancy Chaires on the council.

You can't argue sex discrimination when half the council embarrassed themselves in support of a candidate that was of the female persuasion.

Race? I believe we have a sitting council member of the same race as Lawana. He didn't even support her candidacy.
She's unqualified and she's uniformed. She's does not articulate her thoughts well and her thoughts are sometimes incoherent. - That's why she got no support. - Just look at her complaint, full of errors and poor grammar.
- She's simply not qualified. P-E-R-I-O-D!!
- Nothing to do with sex or race.

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