Montgomery Co. Council ‘stands in solidarity’ with Navarro; orders investigation

Montgomery County, Maryland, leaders have ordered an investigation following an incident during a county council meeting over Zoom in which people were heard commenting on and laughing about Councilmember Nancy Navarro’s accent.

Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker and Vice President Gabe Albornoz directed the county’s Office of Human Resources to conduct a “full independent investigation” after meeting with council central staff leadership immediately following Tuesday’s incident.

“They are grateful to Councilmember Navarro for her willingness to come forward to shine a light on this disturbing incident,” the Montgomery County Council said in a statement.

“While the facts involved with this matter are being investigated, we will recommit ourselves to educating our workforce and fostering a culture that is absolutely respectful, free of bigotry and reflective of Montgomery County’s values.”

The statement said the Montgomery County Council “stands in solidarity with Councilmember Nancy Navarro after a troubling and unacceptable incident,” in which a council staffer and an IT contractor on an open microphone were apparently commenting on and laughing about Navarro’s accent.

The council said it “is committed to racial equity and safe workplaces” and expects that all council members, council employees and contractors “are held to the highest standard.”

Navarro, the first Latina immigrant to serve on the council and a native Spanish speaker, was speaking about the county’s diversity during a virtual council meeting Tuesday on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, when the incident occurred.

A rough transcript provided by the council member’s office reads:

Voice #1: “I love how her accent comes out … giggles … and pronounces words that she thinks they’re pronounced … laughter … like, she says ‘represents’ and ‘hologram’ …
Voice #2: “I heard hologram … laughter …, and that was kinda interesting … laughter …”
Voice #1 again: “ … laughter … so cute”

The Montgomery County Council said it would “continue our work to address inequity and racial bias, and to create a future society where incidents like these do not ever happen.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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