Last Wednesday I asked the council to withdraw the Resolution Affirming the City of Sandpoint’s Commitment to Human Rights and Non-Discrimination. I had proposed the resolution because I felt it was important for the City to take a symbolic stance affirming our compassion for those fleeing extreme violence and poverty. I also felt that it affirmed our traditional American values of religious and ethnic tolerance and respect of human rights.
As has been stated by me and County Commissioners alike, there is nothing the City or the County can do to effect the US refugee policy. That is, no decision the City, or any local government makes will bring refugees here OR deny them access to our community. We are just as safe from ISIS whether we had passed the resolution or not. Unfortunately this important fact was generally lost to many who feared the resolution was an effort to relocate refugees in Sandpoint. They felt it threatened our security and safety. In fact it only threatened our identity as a community.
I did not foresee that by addressing the issue we would risk reinforcing the unfortunate image that we as a community have worked so hard to overcome. For inviting this unintended consequence I am truly sorry to Sandpoint and Bonner County. The City’s message has a powerful effect on our community identity. Our community pride I’ve heard many visitors say is our most distinguished quality. It may not be why people come here, but it is the reason they stay. It is the reason they start a business, raise a family and relocate here. Sandpoint’s 2001 Human Dignity Resolution mandates the Council “to communicate a strong, clear message that any form of prejudice or hatred will not be tolerated in our community.” Despite the outcome of Wednesday night’s resolution, Sandpoint is a community that celebrates tolerance, compassion and human dignity and will continue to do so in the future.
Mayor Shelby Rognstad