Temecula mayor speaks about his resignation

By Eddie Landeros 

Former Temecula Mayor James “Stew” Stewart. Photo source: Temecula.gov

James “Stew” Stewart resigned as mayor of Temecula on June 4 over an email he sent regarding a concerned citizen’s question about race relations and police brutality. 

An email from a Temecula constituent contacted Stewart about what the city is doing to prevent the “systemic racism in policing that is killing black people.” 

The former mayor said he doesn’t believe “there’s ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer.” He also stated he has “several good friends that are African-Americans, and they love living” in Temecula. 

His email response later appeared on Twitter as a screenshot and received heavy backlash from citizens who demanded the resignation of his position as mayor. There were also screenshots of Stewart’s response to a complaint from citizen Josam Santana, who claimed he and his wife were attacked by protestors in Temecula. Stewart commented on Facebook (now removed) that the protestors were “just trying to cause issues just like they did in LA and other cities around us.”  

Santana later admitted he lied about the confrontation when a video on Twitter showed him agitating the protestors himself. Stewart refused to comment on the situation. 

“I wasn’t there I didn’t see it and there’s no police report to cooperate it so I can’t make a statement one way or another,” said Mayor Stewart in a text screenshot on Twitter.  

He apologized on Facebook, saying that he suffers from dyslexia and wrote the email via voice-to-text, failing to check for errors. He said that he meant to say he does not believe a person of color has ever been murdered by a police officer in Temecula or Riverside County. Regardless of his intentions, citizens were not pleased with the response. He eventually chose to resign and apologized publicly over Facebook

“I owe everyone an apology, including our citizens of all backgrounds and ethnicities, City staff, and my respected colleagues on the City Council,” Stewart wrote. “You have every right to be hurt and offended. My typos and off-the-cuff response to an email on a serious topic added pain at a time where our community, and our country, is suffering. I may not be the best writer and I sometimes misspeak, but I am not racist. I deeply regret this mistake and I own it, entirely. I am truly sorry.” 

According to Patch.com, Stewart said he was organizing a meeting with local black leaders and law enforcement to resolve some of the concerns voiced by local citizens regarding police brutality. No specifics were given.