Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) In this file photo from 2011, Melodia Gutierrez uses a loud speaker as she leads hundreds of opponents to immigration bills passed previously by the Utah Legislature.
Utah Democrats oust Latino director, who says they're being unfair
Politics » Melodia Gutierrez says party leaders “don’t practice what they preach.”
First Published Jul 11 2013 12:39 pm • Last Updated Jul 11 2013 11:00 pm

The Utah Democratic Party on Thursday forced out its first-ever Latino outreach director — who says the party is mistreating her and is not following its own declared vision of diversity and inclusiveness.

"It was a completely blind-side, forced resignation. I’m the second woman of color they let go unceremoniously. ... There were only two women of color in the office," said Melodia Gutierrez, who worked as the Latino outreach director for the past year.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"I feel so betrayed. I really cared about these people. I’m shocked," she said. "They don’t practice what they preach."

She said Matt Lyon, the party’s executive director, told her that her work did not match the vision of the state party. She said she asked for an opportunity to improve and match that vision but said he replied that it was best that they part ways.

She said she was never given specific goals or direction but feels she did a good job in creating an outreach program from scratch. It included a voter registration drive built around the push for immigration reform, creating the party’s first ads on Spanish TV, establishing a Weber County Latino Caucus and organizing a Diversity Day at the Legislature.

She said Lyon emailed her a statement Thursday morning that he wanted her to endorse saying she was leaving for personal and family reasons. Instead, she wrote a letter of resignation to party leaders saying Lyon asked for it — which was sent to the media by an upset Salt Lake County Hispanic Caucus Chairman Nate Salazar.

Lyon told The Tribune it would be inappropriate to go into detail about personnel decisions. He said the other "woman of color" Gutierrez referred to, a black woman, was "not let go" and "was a temporary employee" who left because the position did not pay as much as she sought.

"We are going to rehire the position" of Latino outreach director, Lyon added. "It’s an important role."

Salazar said he is upset, in part, because the outreach position was created with the "idea that community caucuses and leaders from the Latino community would help out with the evaluation process." He said that did not happen.

"I wasn’t contacted about this decision. Melodia has a really great reputation in our community," he said. "So it’s disheartening. ... I feel like it’s a lack of democratic process."


story continues below
story continues below

Gutierrez said she feels the Democratic Party is still the best place for Latinos to place their political trust.

"I think that the Democratic Party in large shares the values of the Latino community. We need to grow from this situation and take it as a challenge to make the party better and more inclusive," she said.

"We don’t want to make this a bitter situation, we want to make it a better situation. We want to push for fair hiring and firing practices in the party and not give unilateral power to one human being to hire and fire at will taking advantage of the right to work laws in Utah," she said.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.