You might think the mayor of a small Arizona border town would have a passing familiarity with the need to accommodate a diverse, multilingual constituency. And you might think that same mayor would probably find value in meeting other border town mayors from across the United States and Mexico who likely share many of the same issues and concerns.
You might think that, but Ken Taylor evidently doesn't.
Ken Taylor, mayor of the Arizona town of Huachuca City, turned heads this week by stridently refusing to attended an upcoming U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association meeting in Laredo, Texas. Why? Because the invitation was in both English and Spanish.
As first reported by the El Paso Times, Taylor was invited to participate in the meeting, scheduled for August 24th, in a bilingual message, which read:
The excitement is building and we are ready for a great meeting of the Border Mayors Association in Laredo. We hope to see you there at 9 a.m. on August 24th at the Laredo Country Club. The draft agenda and a list of hotels is attached to this email.
La emoción está construyendo y estamos listos para una gran reunión de la Asociación de alcaldes de la frontera en Laredo. Esperamos contar con su presencia a las 9 am el 24 de agosto en el Laredo Country Club. El proyecto de programa y una lista de hoteles se adjunta a este correo electrónico.
In response, Taylor allegedly emailed BMA executive director, and former El Paso mayor, John Cook, telling him, "I will NOT attend a function that is sent to me in Spanish/Mexican. [Ed. note: yes, he said "Mexican" as thought it was a language.] One nation means one language and I am insulted by the division caused by language."
Cook, for his part, reportedly offered to take Taylor off any future emails, and clarified that "the purpose of the Border Mayors Association is to speak with one voice in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City about issues that impact our communities, not to speak in one language. My humble apologies if I ruffled your feathers."
One might think that would be the end of the exchange—an invitation, a rejection, and a confirmation. Taylor, on the other hand, wasn't quite finished. In an even more heated response to Cook's apology obtained by the Times, Taylor wrote:
America is going 'Down Hill' fast because we spend more time catering to others that are concerned with their own self interests. It is far past time to remember that we should be 'America First' … there is NOTHING wrong with that. My feathers are ruffled anytime I see anything American putting other countries First. If I was receiving correspondence from Mexican interests, I would expect to see them listed First. Likewise, when I see things produced from America, I EXPECT to see America First.
Wonder who he's voting for in November?
Per its website, Huachuca City boasts a population of just under 2,000 people, and sits adjacent to Army Fort Huachuca. On his "Mayor's Corner" blog, Taylor writes that he ran for office "because I believed that simple morals and values were being ignored and I could do better." He also pledges to act "with honesty, integrity, and conduct the office of Mayor with positive leadership for the betterment of all people."
When pressed for comment, Mayor Taylor told NBC Latino that he will only speak with "conservative news sources."