MARION — A member of the Marion Planning and Zoning Commission quit Monday after the city investigated complaints she posted photos of her and her husband on social media in Halloween costumes depicting an undocumented immigrant being captured by a border patrol agent.
Although a city of Marion statement announcing the resignation did not name her, city officials confirmed to The Gazette that the member who left is local Realtor Deb Callahan, whose term on the city board was set to expire in December 2021.
Callahan and her husband were seen in photos Callahan posted on her Facebook page of herself dressed as a member of the border patrol and her husband dressed in a sombrero and holding a bottle of tequila. “Border patrol caught an undocumented immigrant tonight,” a caption said.
Callahan declined to comment when reached on her cellphone Monday evening by The Gazette. A statement from the real estate company for which she worked issued a brief statement Monday night: “Debra Callahan is no longer an agent at Skogman Realty,“ it said in response to a question.
After several people had shared the photos and criticized them, the city released statements Monday, the latest announcing the resignation. The city said it had received “concerns about a city commissioner’s social media posts interpreted by many as being racially/culturally insensitive.”
“The city appreciates residents reporting these types of concerns and takes them seriously,” the statement said. “The city is grateful for the past and continued service of its volunteer board and commission members and has a responsibility to ensure that such decisions cannot be questioned for bias. This underscores the importance of the continuing work of Marion’s Community Equity Task Force.”
Earlier this year, Marion established a Community Equity Task Force with city officials, members of the Marion Alliance For Racial Equity and other members of the community to look at and address issues of racial equity in the city.
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The role of the Planning and Zoning Commission, according to the city, is to make recommendations to the City Council about zoning, preliminary and final plats, site plans and certain ordinance changes.
Members of the nine-member board are appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council.
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