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Civil Rights Advocates Push For Diversity In Anne Arundel County Council

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—A racial slur directed at Asians during a county council meeting last week in Annapolis could impact who is appointed to fill a vacancy on the council.

Mike Schuh first brought you this story on Friday, and reports now there is pressure for a more diverse council.

In Anne Arundel County, there are only six councilmen in office. The chair for the first district is empty after the council booted Daryl Jones, who reported to federal prison for tax evasion.

The county has tried to vote in his successor 102 times.

On Tuesday, the 103rd and 104th continue the 3-3-tie between former state Senator Michael Wagner and former Marine Peter Smith. And now the appointment is being scrutinized after an incident with Councilman Dick Ladd last week.

Ladd used an ethnic slur while interviewing a candidate. Too offensive to air, the four letter word is defined by the dictionary as “a very offensive word for someone from Asia.”

Ladd apologized that night and when WJZ interviewed him.

“I knew I needed to apologize if I offended anybody,” he said.

But what he said has civil rights activists taking a closer look at the council. It’s all white.

“For the first time in 50 years it’s possible there will be no African-American, Asians, women, Latinos and that’s not America, not the right thing,”  said Carl Snowden, civil rights activist.

After Tuesday’s deadlocked vote, the council moved to postpone it for two weeks.

Will race now be an issue?

“I don’t know how much it will factor in,” said Derek Fink, council chairman. “I’m not looking at diversity so much as the best candidate.”

“Well I think it’s pretty sad. We’re paid as leaders to make decisions, especially in the military. At times we always look for the 100 percent solution and in this instance sometimes the 70 percent solution is the best option,” said Peter Smith, candidate for council.

With the matter tabled, county residents will have two weeks to lobby their councilman on how to vote the next time it comes up.

That vote will be held in council chambers on March 5 at 7 p.m.

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