Council reacts to Arizona shootings

Before standing for the Pledge of Allegiance Monday, Mayor Tim Leavitt called for those at the city council meeting to take a moment of silence to recognize Saturday’s tragedy in Arizona.

“Our thoughts and prayers from the Vancouver City Council are with them at this time of great sorrow,” said Leavitt, acknowledging Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was among the 14 wounded, and also the six people killed.

But the mayor also took the time to speak up.

With two police officers standing in the back of council chambers, he encouraged citizens to return to civility in political discourse — which is being discussed as a possible catalyst in alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner’s massacre.

“When speech is used for hate, whether it’s an attack on citizens or public servants and officials, it tears at the fabric of our great form of participatory government.”

“This is not the time to place blame. It’s an opportunity for reflection and to recommit to civility in our private and public lives…the words we use do matter.”

Town halls with the council have strayed from civil in the last year.

Councilor Jeanne Harris, who herself has infamously quarreled with citizen speakers, said she’d like to get involved in a forum of some kind to advance discourse.

“I want to thank you for your comments,” she said to the mayor. “This is a good opportunity for this community to come together and talk about the issues that you referred to.”

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