VALLEJO – A candidate for the McCune Collection Commission has withdrawn her application after she was confronted during a recent Vallejo City Council meeting about racial comments she made in a May 2020 social media post.
The Vallejo City Clerk’s Office confirmed that Julie Stratton pulled her application on Monday, which came a week after intense questioning from Vallejo Councilman Hakeem Brown about a Facebook post in which she stated that both Brown and former Mayor Osby Davis displayed “the Old Uppity Kneegrow (sic) syndrome.”
Stratton issued a statement to the Vallejo Sun explaining her decision.
“I withdrew my application to the McCune Commission in objection to Councilmember Brown’s demeaning, intimidating and condescending questioning during the interview,” Stratton wrote.
She also made reference to media reports published last fall detailing domestic violence in Brown’s past.
“By withdrawing the application, I am standing in solidarity and support of the many other women who have been subjected to his abuse; I refuse to allow myself to be manipulated into becoming yet another of his victims,” Stratton added.
Brown began his questioning during the special Feb. 1 council meeting by asking Stratton about how she would address issued of social justice and equity as a member of the McCune commission before going off script.
“Julie, so the question is can you tell us how you would address issues of social justice and equity in your position as a McCune commissioner, and especially considering [since] you called both myself and Mayor Davis “uppity negroes” which would amount to calling us ‘uppity niggers,” Brown asked Stratton. “So I’d love to know what are you going to do address these issues considering the fact that you’ve used racial slurs.”
Stratton didn’t respond to Brown’s questioning about her post. That May 2020 post caused Stratton to resign from the commission. She recently re-applied as the council is looking to fill two seats on the seven-person commission which oversees the rare books collection.
In addition, top ranking city staff took the unusual step of issuing a letter on Monday condemning Stratton’s post. It was signed by Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff and his senior leadership team.
“The term used by the applicant historically promotes white supremacy and their belief African Americans are second class citizens and has stepped outside boundaries delineated by white supremacy believers,” the letter states.
Staff said Stratton’s comments “do not represent the foundational values we collectively share in the city of Vallejo.”
“There are African American city employees who are understandably very insulted and emotionally harmed by this racist statement,” staff wrote. “We must stand up and speak out for them and our city’s values in condemning this disparaging statement.”
In her post, Stratton criticized Brown for allegedly changing his demeanor after being elected to the council in November 2018.
Asked for comment Tuesday, Brown said he was “grateful” for the support from city staff.
“Her post also affects city staff, and so does (Councilwoman) Katy Miessner’s apology to a racist about a racist comment,” Brown added. (Stratton) pulled application only because of public pressure not because she is sorry about her comments.”
Brown also questioned why Stratton felt comfortable to re-apply to the McCune Commission.
“She wouldn’t have re-applied if she thought she didn’t think she had a good chance to be re-appointed,” he said. “Which raises other questions about the climate.”
Following the McCune interviews, Miessner apologized to Stratton and the other commission applicant, calling Brown’s questioning “inappropriate.”
“That is a matter we should address separately,” Mayor Robert McConnell added before Brown began addressing Miessner.
“Councilmember Miessner I would take a little umbrage at that because calling someone an uppity,” Brown said before McConnell began to call him out of order.
The two men shouted to be heard before McConnell asked if Brown wanted to poll the council to determine if McConnell’s out of order ruling was proper. The council ultimately upheld McConnell’s ruling that Brown broke decorum.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Feb. 13, 2021 to include comments from Julie Stratton.
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- Hakeem Brown
- Julie Stratton
- Vallejo City Council
- Vallejo City Hall
- McCune Collection Commission
- Greg Nyhoff
- Katy Miessner
- Robert McConnell
John Glidden worked as a journalist covering the city of Vallejo for more than 10 years. He left journalism in 2023 and currently works in the office of Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
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