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Mason City senior citizens take issue with Mayor’s age comments


This news story was published on January 25, 2011.
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Senior citizens in Mason City have taken issue with recent comments about age that Mayor Eric Bookmeyer allegedly made.

The uproar stems from Bookmeyer’s refusal to re-appoint three Human Rights Commissioners whose terms expired January 1st. Kathy Loeckle, Chairwoman of the Mason City Human Rights Commission told NorthIowaToday.com that “he wants younger people with a fresher perspective” on the Commission.

Now, senior citizens are speaking out about the Mayor’s statements.

One senior wrote a letter to the Mayor and said “My goodness, what are you thinking? To say you need ‘young people with fresh ideas’ is an incredible lack of respect and is age discrimination.”

Pat Steinfort, who is in her 70’s, told NorthIowaToday.com “In regards to the Mayor’s statement regarding young people, I feel there are many people in the 60’s and 70’s age range that are qualified, intelligent, have many good ideas, and a lot of experience to serve on many boards. These people have the right to serve on boards and commissions in Mason City. This statement made by the Mayor is a discrimination against older people.”

Peter Children, 76, of Mason City wrote “He needs to learn that the comment he made alluding to old people sitting on boards did not go down well in this community.”

NorthIowaToday.com asked Lionel Foster, Human Rights Department Director, if there would be value in appointing new, youthful members to the Human Rights Commission. “That’s an interesting question,” he answered. “There’s no ‘fresh ideas.’ Human rights are governed by statutes. ‘New ideas’ can’t circumvent the statute.”

Don Nelson, a Mason City City Council member who is also a senior citizen, sent a letter to NorthIowaToday.com. In the letter, he stated “Mayor Bookmeyer stated he will not be re-appointing three Human rights Commissioners. Mayor Bookmeyer’s reason was he wants to appoint young people with a fresh perspective to the Human Rights Commission. Could this be considered age discrimination?”

Max Weaver, also a Mason City City Council member, said “Every day, City Hall learns something new about this kid. He reminds us of a bratty adolescent that wants all the power. It’s real simple. Mr. Mayor, you need to apologize to his community you call home and its elders.”

Weaver has added the issue to Tuesday night’s Council work session agenda for discussion.

NorthIowaToday.com will cover the meeting and report any new developments.|

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