Merriam-Webster’s definition 2B of the word “scapegoat” best describes the position in which Lance McDaniel of Cortez now finds himself: “One that is the object of irrational hostility.”
McDaniel, a member of Cortez’s Planning and Zoning Commission and a member of the Montezuma-Cortez Board of Education Re-1 faces a school board recall election Feb. 16.
The progenitors of the recall are two people who said in their petition McDaniel’s Facebook posts were inappropriate and he has shown a “lack of leadership.” They persuaded 1,126 people to sign their petition. Well, that’s a lot of people, you might think. McDaniel must be doing something wrong.
He is, from their perspective.
He is an unabashed liberal in a place where the majority of people are conservative.
The situation is, sadly, a reflection of the animosity between groups of differing political persuasions that has grown like a cancer in our communities during the last few years.
The vendetta against McDaniel has been going on for about two years, starting when the Planning and Zoning Commission was rewriting its land-use code, a yearlong process. Some people got mad during that process because the proposed changes would make development more expensive.
McDaniel – one of five volunteer members of the commission – was singled out for their wrath. What’s ironic is that the naysayers won – the Cortez City Council failed to adopt the new code and continues operating under its outdated one.
Yet in recent months, the anger has turned into something else altogether.
The petition effort began in July.
In an October Zoom meeting of the school board, some members of the public unmuted themselves and shouted vile threats at McDaniel. The meeting was shut down.
McDaniel later tweeted, “At tonight’s school board meeting, someone wished rape on my daughter, called me a pedophile and (I) was attacked for delivering pizza to a middle-school LGBTQ lunch club once a week. I’m hated by the right people.”
McDaniel said that the enmity against him blossomed into stalking on his Facebook page and that his posts have been taken out of context.
An examination of his page shows he mostly reposts information from nonprofit organizations, the school system and public health authorities.
McDaniel is a homeboy, raised in Cortez, who left to pursue a trucking career in Phoenix and San Diego. He returned home in 2013 upon retiring from his job as manager of a large trucking concern to be closer to his family, and has dedicated himself to community service ever since. He takes his position on the school board seriously.
“I’ve never missed a meeting. I have only voted in the minority three times. When I disagree, I make my point, but support the board’s decision.”
It’s McDaniel’s personal beliefs people seem to be holding against him, not his behavior.
For an object of irrational hostility, McDaniel sounds pretty grounded. He decided not to be bullied into resigning; we applaud him for not caving in. (His term expires in November.)
He has a strong group of supporters, organized as the Committee to Vote No on Recall, and says he is “optimistic” about retaining his seat.
“I think the majority of the county sees through a lot of this stuff. Even though it’s a right-leaning county, there are those who respect the rights of others.”
Besides, “it’s a nice place to live,” he said. “The climate’s not terrible, there’s a lot to do, the scenery’s beautiful. I think we should be enjoying that rather than hating on each other.”
We encourage voters to reject the recall.