Protesters Continue to Call for Calaveras County Planning Commissioner’s Resignation

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SAN ANDREAS --

There were tense moments at the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday night as protesters and supporters clashed over comments made by a planning commissioner earlier this month.

Some want that commissioner, Kelly Wooster, to lose his job after asking if "people from Mexico" could be viewed as an invasive species. But others are defending him, claiming he's already apologized.

Two weeks ago, the board of supervisors decided unanimously to allow Wooster to keep his job after he apologized. But at Tuesday night's meeting, many protesters urged the board to reconsider.

"Remove him from his position," said Amelia Vongphairoth, a Calaveras County resident. "It's highly offensive to my children,  I'm not an invasive species, my children are not, my family is not."

"He was man enough to admit he made a mistake, and he apologized for it, and as a Mexican American I was man enough to accept his apology," said Frank Garza, who is tired of outside groups trying to bully the board into removing Wooster. "He's done a lot for this community, and you got people coming from outside this county trying to drag his name through the mud."

Friends of Wooster also defended his name Tuesday. Paulie Sender described how an illegal pot grow near his property influenced his comment.

"The cartel had come in and they had taken his water, so his reaction was a little different than what it may normally have been," Sender told the board.

Some protesters who were not from Calaveras County said they were met with aggression from others at the meeting as soon as they arrived.

"We got cussed at a little bit, and yelled at, and you know, some jeers and some nasty looks and some comments," said Motecuzoma Sanchez, director of the nonprofit Semillas, which is located in Stockton.