Mayor of Sonoma County town to resign amid criticism for declining to formally discuss police reform

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Leah Gold, who planned to resign as mayor of Healdsburg on June 30, 2020, appears in a photo posted on the city's website.

Leah Gold, who planned to resign as mayor of Healdsburg on June 30, 2020, appears in a photo posted on the city’s website.

The mayor of the Northern California town of Healdsburg is resigning amid criticism she mishandled requests by the local Black Lives Matter movement and its allies to have a discussion on how police officers employ force in the line of duty.

Mayor Leah Gold announced Tuesday in a letter she planned to step down on June 30, the Press Democrat reported.

Her resignation comes two weeks after Gold and the majority of her City Council colleagues declined to have a formal discussion about police use of force policies amid the ongoing national push for an end to police brutality and racism.

“To me, it’s a solution looking for a problem. I don’t see that that’s a place I particularly want to put our time and energy,” Gold said at a virtual City Council meeting June 1, when protests were spreading nationwide over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained in Minnesota by a white officer.

After her comments, she faced a torrent of calls for her resignation and last week, tensions boiled over during a demonstration in the town’s plaza when a crowd encircled Gold and several council members, reasserting their call for her to resign.

The U.S. Census estimates about 70% of the town’s 12,000 residents are white. About a third of the population in the town in California’s wine country are Latino, with a small share of Asian-American, Black and Native American residents.

In an interview with the newspaper, Gold acknowledged that her initial stance on concerns raised by residents had fallen short. Stepping down, she said, could grant a chance for a person of color to assume her seat on the all-white council.

“I feel, considering the council has some major work ahead to respond to the community and work on these issues of racial equity, that I seem to be a target, and they may be more effective if I’m out of the picture,” Gold said.

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