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Votes

It's Null, Not Council

Council reaffirms town's non-discrimination policy.

At the request of Mayor Michael O'Reilly a news release was distributed to reaffirm the town's non-discriminatory policy in response to recent comments made by council member Ann Null.

"We needed to be certain the entire community was aware one council person does not speak for the entire council," said O'Reilly. "The press release was issued at my request to help the community understand the Town Council does not adopt the comments made by council member Ann Null."

The news release, sent out Sept. 20 by town public information officer Robin Runser, said the Town Council will consider the adoption of a resolution to reaffirm the town's non-discriminatory policy that was created in 1988, at the council's Sept. 28 public meeting.

In accordance to the non-discriminatory policy resolution, the proposed resolution states, "recent remarks by council member Ann Null in public forums and quotes and letters by her in local and regional press were discriminatory, offensive, and disrespectful of the office she holds and to the citizens she was elected to represent ... any personal views expressed Ms. Null in any forum do not represent the views of the Mayor, the other members of the Herndon Town Council or the policy of the Town of Herndon."

In response to the release, Null said she knew the resolution was up for adoption, but she was not aware the town would send out a news release to the public.

"The only concern I have of this communication is the wording of this and the [1988] wording," said Null. "I prefer the wording of the '88 policy."

Null said she is "not crazy about what's going on," and hopes for some civility with the passing of this resolution.

"I apologized for using the term 'pre-Madonna artistes' and for linking the NRC [Neighborhood Resource Center] with the community arts center," said Null of her Sept. 14 response to resident requests at the public hearing that she apologize for her comments.

"I think calling me a racist is inappropriate," said Null. "Racism is very hurtful and if there are any allegations, I hope they can be articulated to me."

Council member Carol Bruce said the comments and disruptions caused within the council and the community is something "no one is getting any pleasure out of."

"As a member of council you are held to a high standard," said Bruce. "You are selected to represent everyone in the town ... [Null's] statements were hurtful to a specific segment of the community as well as the community as a whole."

Bruce said she hopes the council can now move forward.

"We've got so many important things to deal with," said Bruce. "The way you get things accomplished is not to run to the newspapers each time you're unhappy with something ... she definitely needs to stop making such hateful comments."

Null said she agrees time has been wasted on this issue, especially in the last public hearing, but she said it will not cause her to "shirk my responsibility" as a council member.

"This has been a polarizing and lots of people have been giving me lots of support," said Null. "So I guess I don't have a prepared statement about this."

"I had received comments from citizens that the Town Council needs to take a strong position that the council does not agree with her by their silence on the matter," said O'Reilly as to why he is addressing the issue now.

O'Reilly said he met with Null Sept. 17 to notify her of the proposed adoption in response to her comments.

"She believes in the non-discriminatory policy," said O'Reilly. "But, I'm not sure she believes, as the rest of the council does, that her comments were wrong."

Council member Dennis Husch said he thinks the resolution to reaffirm the non-discriminatory policy is an excellent idea, and hopes it will help the town and council move past the last month of events.

"Yeah, we have been wasting a lot of electrons on this issue," said Husch. "Hopefully we can get this resolved and take the proper place in the work period of where council should be."