New County Commissioner Facing Increasing Pressure to Resign

The new chair of the Clackamas County commission has joined the growing chorus calling for one of her colleagues to resign over a series of social media posts that equated Islam with radical terrorism — and made other statements deemed anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ.

Clackamas Chair Tootie Smith issued a statement Wednesday calling on her fellow newly elected colleague, Commissioner Mark Shull, to resign immediately “in support of the greatest good of citizens of Clackamas County.”

Smith had put out a fiercely worded statement the day before, calling Shull’s alleged Islamophophic and xenophobic posts “offensive,” “bigoted” and “horrifying” — but had stopped just short of asking him to step down from the position he’d assumed less than two weeks earlier.

Smith’s call adds even more pressure to Shull, who’s facing a rising chorus of city, county and state elected officials, along with residents, saying he should remove himself from public office.

In a written statement Wednesday, 11 state representatives and senators who represent parts of Clackamas County condemned Shull’s comments and urged him to immediately step down.

The legislators said they condemned Shull’s “disgraceful” social media posts.

“In a moment when too many give in to their hatred and deny facts, we’ve seen firsthand in Salem and in Washington, D.C., in recent weeks just how destructive this kind of language can be,” the lawmakers said. “Hatred like this has no place in our society. Rather, we must do all we can to collectively confront our past and to address the continued impact that systemic racism and bigotry have on immigrants and communities of color.”

Two Canby city councilors, Greg Parker and Sarah Spoon, signed onto a separate statement with two dozen other local elected officials of Clackamas County communities.

“To those targeted by Commissioner Shull, we stand with you and take seriously our job to provide equitable representation, protection and service to every member of our communities,” the mayors and city councilors said in the statement, which also called for Shull’s immediate resignation.

“We uphold our commitment to protect all of the people we represent and to speak out against racism, hate, bigotry and other forms of intolerance that have no place in our society. As elected leaders, we know our words matter and carry force.”

The signatories represent a wide continuum of perspectives, beliefs and ideas, the statement said.

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“What is not open for debate is the worth of all people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender identity, or otherwise. We cannot work with a county commissioner who has clearly demonstrated a belief quite to the contrary and that puts our residents and communities at risk.”

John Wentworth, the newly elected district attorney of Clackamas County, also called on Shull to resign. More than 20 Clackamas County department heads, including the sheriff, had signed a letter asking Shull to step down.

Shull has faced increasing scrutiny in recent days since Clackamas County resident Cris Waller published a blog documenting dozens of Facebook posts from Shull dating back to at least 2019, which contained alleged Islamophobic, racist and transphobic comments.

A post from July 2019 reads, “When you interact with a Muslim, you’re being deceived. Period. End of sentence.”

“This is how it starts,” he said in another post 13 months ago, documenting the alleged “Muslim invasion” of the United Kingdom. “The way it ends is you and yours are…dead. Not my idea, that would be the word from every Imam and every Ayatollah.”

Shull has yet to resign.

In response to threats received after Shull’s comments surfaced, the county postponed its swearing-in ceremony for commissioners, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday.

In a statement to media outlets Monday, Shull apologized for community members’ concerns — without disavowing the comments themselves.

“I apologize for any concerns in the community related to my comments years ago about problems with integration of Islam into western society,” he said. “I respect the freedom of religion that extends to members of the Islamic community, as well as to all religious beliefs.”

He promised to work toward “increasing understanding and cooperation amongst all new immigrants to our nation” and to the county.

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