As Darin Mano was knocking on doors this weekend, campaigning to become the first Asian American elected to the City Council by Salt Lake City voters, he apparently set off an official with the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
Steven A. Wuthrich, an assistant attorney general, sent Mano an email Saturday complaining about someone ringing his doorbell, “waking the dogs and waking us and the neighbors with an uproar.”
“I will do everything in my power to see you never get elected to any office higher than dogcatcher,” Wuthrich wrote to Mano, who was appointed to Erin Mendenhall’s vacant District 5 council seat in 2020 after she was elected mayor.
District 5 includes central neighborhoods in the capital, including the Ballpark area and Liberty Park.
“I hate you,” Wuthrich’s email continued. “I hate your family. I hate your solicitors. I hate your contributors. I hate your sponsors. Kindly die and go to hell” — while including several obscenities.
Wuthrich initially refused to speak to The Salt Lake Tribune when called for comment, but then, after this story appeared online, he issued an apology late Tuesday afternoon.
“Last Saturday, I was awakened from a nap and reacted with undue anger based solely on the interruption to my tranquility,” Wuthrich wrote. “Since then, I have regretted the ferocity and language of that email. My words were uncivil and unprofessional. From me personally, I apologize to Salt Lake City Councilman Darin Mano and his family.”
Mano shared Wuthrich’s email on his campaign Facebook page Monday, writing that “as an Asian American and a member of the LGTBQ community, I must stand up against hate speech and call it out when I see it.”
“There’s no room,” Mano added, “for hate in our city.”
An increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic prompted U.S. lawmakers to pass legislation addressing the issue last month. In an interview, Mano acknowledged that nothing in the email specifically called him out as a person of color or member of the queer community.
“But I think the line that hit me the most,” Mano said, “was the ‘I hate your family,’ because there’s a photo in the materials I dropped off that shows my partner and our kids. ... We’re a family that’s a little outside the typical for Utah.”
In his apology Tuesday, Wuthrich said he did not wish any harm to Mano, his family or his associates.
“No parent, spouse or child should be subjected to such emotional outbursts,” the assistant attorney general wrote. “I am deeply sorry.”
Wuthrich added that he wished Mano well in his campaign and said that he is “taking steps to examine my reaction” to the candidate’s canvassing.
Mano’s spokesperson said late Tuesday afternoon that Wuthrich has not reached out to the campaign.
Wuthrich’s initial email to Mano noted that he has a “no soliciting” sign on his door. Mano said he saw that sign.
“I’m kind of new to politics,” Mano said, “but all the political advisers have assured me that political canvassing is not soliciting.”
The councilman noted in his Facebook post that he has a “duty” to reach his constituents. And Mano wasn’t trying to contact Wuthrich, but another registered voter who lives at his address.
“The person we were trying to reach,” Mano said, “was either his wife or his roommate.”
Mano said he felt compelled to call out the hate-filled email because he specifically asked the Asian American community in a speech last month to not ignore such treatment.
“In my family, in a lot of Asian American families I’ve heard from, it’s our tendency to ignore things when they happen to us and not draw attention to ourselves,” Mano said. “But I believe we have to draw attention to hate to stop hate.”
City Council seats for Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 are up for election this year. The District 2 seat is also up for election to fill the vacancy left by Andrew Johnston when Mendenhall appointed him to helm the city’s homelessness response earlier this year. The council selected Dennis Faris to fill that seat until Jan. 3, 2022.