TYLER SANDBERG: APS board member’s comments about immigrants disgusting

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Aurora is home to a diverse tapestry of immigrant communities. Walk around the city and within a few blocks you are likely to run into a carniceria, a Korean barbecue joint, an Ethiopian grocer and a school where more languages are spoken than the Tower of Babel.

Our city’s diversity is one of our city’s great strengths.

We’re also the safest large city in Colorado.

All that is prelude to Aurora School Board Director Cathy Wildman’s recent, racist and despicable rant about immigrants.

During the May 16 school board meeting, Wildman said that immigrants have made parts of America unsafe, so much so that on a recent trip to Southern Arizona, her nieces were allegedly forced to avoid certain areas due to immigrant communities. That such an ignorant and disgusting sentiment would be expressed from someone elected to represent one of the most diverse school districts in America is stupefying.

It should not, however, be ignored.

Wildman was elected in 2015 with the overwhelming financial might of the Aurora teachers’ union, which spent upward of $100,000 smearing Wildman’s opponents and promoting her supposed value to the school district.

While Wildman may have deep-pocketed special interests behind her, it doesn’t mean she is impervious to community sentiment.

I haven’t heard Amy Nichols or the Aurora Education Association say a word about Wildman’s racist rant, but I have heard a great deal from my immigrant friends in Aurora.

They are horrified and disgusted by her comments. Not just by the hatefulness, but by the ignorance.

Despite having a higher proportion of immigrants residing in Aurora than anywhere else in the state, Aurora remains the safest large city in Colorado.

In fact, immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans. They are less likely to commit crime. Many of them appreciate what our country offers more than most who are lucky enough to be born here.

Immigrants do not make America more dangerous. They make it more prosperous.

Wildman, however, does not strengthen our city with her leadership, she insults it. She should be ashamed of herself.

If she truly views immigrants as a menacing force making America more dangerous, she doesn’t belong as a representative of our community.

With the many steep challenges facing Aurora’s schools, the last thing it needs are school board directors who view its students and their immigrant parents with disdain. 

We need hopeful leaders who see opportunity to turn things around, not ignorant racists who see danger in diversity.

Our city’s schools have among the lowest test scores in the state. Barely half of students in Aurora Public Schools graduate high school and only one in 10 will graduate from college. We are failing our students.

In this time of great challenge, we require great leaders.

It is clear Wildman is incapable of providing that leadership and it is time she resigns.

Aurora deserves better.

Aurora resident Tyler Sandberg is senior project manager at EIS Solutions and former campaign manager and chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.