A Chambers County commissioner has apologized for asking a local judge to “speak English” as she tried to give updates related to a local fire, in English and Spanish, on Tuesday March 26. “This is not Mexico,” Chambers County Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Tice told Harris County Judge Linda Hidalgo, according to the Houston Chronicle, doubling down and calling Hidalgo “a joke.” He tried to defend his comments by saying that he was just “frustrated” about the lack of translation for English-language speakers.
His comments didn’t go over well and now he’s had to apologize.
“I apologize to Judge Hidalgo, the citizens of my County, and most importantly the entire Hispanic community for hastily acting out with transgression on social media,” he wrote via Facebook.
This is his full statement:
In regards to the comments I issued on Judge Hidalgo’s press conference:
From my understanding, there were reporters asking questions in Spanish and Judge Hildalgo responded to those questions in Spanish, with no translation given. If that is not the case, then I sincerely apologize. Like many citizens concerned about the ITC fires, I was very emotional about the effect it was having on everyone. I apologize to Judge Hidalgo, the citizens of my County, and most importantly the entire Hispanic community for hastily acting out with transgression on social media. I recognize how my response could have been interpreted in a derogatory manner and for that I am sorry. I immediately regretted my choice of words. I’m not proud of my behavior, that is not the example I wish to lead by. I can only hope, in time, that my actions can be forgiven. Having grown up in Galena Park, Texas— a place that is and has always been a very diverse community—I was raised with the ideology that you do not judge anyone by their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Those values mean everything to me. It breaks my heart that I may have said anything that would lead anyone to believe otherwise. Those who know me well, know how deeply rooted I am within the Hispanic community. My sentiments on this issue were grounded in the passion and love that I have for the City of Houston and the surrounding areas. Again, I am truly sorry for for creating this unnecessary situation. Mark
Here are some reactions on Twitter following Tice’s initial comments:
As it turns out, my incredibly pissed off grandmother resides in Chambers County, and now she has Mark Tice’s phone number. Hope you answer your phone tomorrow, Mark. One of your constituents would like to have a word with you. #racistprick https://t.co/oZ1It6GBZ8
— Rob O! #BETO2020 (@Daybreaker77) March 26, 2019
@JudgeHidalgo has been a bright spot for Harris county during the #ITCfire. Speaking bilingual is positive for the community. That makes Mark Tice an idiot bigot. He should be voted out the next election. @Lina4HC https://t.co/AXgmKZJJqp
— Roger Westhoff (@roger_westhoff) March 26, 2019
Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia also responded:
Ya no mas! It’s appalling that in 2019 Commissioner Mark Tice ridiculed @JudgeHidalgo for speaking Spanish. Our region is diverse. That diversity makes us stronger! At a minimum, Tice should publicly apologize to the Judge and the thousands of Spanish speakers in our region.
— Sylvia R. Garcia (@LaCongresista) March 27, 2019
Some did support his comments:
He is so on point! Chambers County Commissioner Mark Tice commented “She is a joke. English this is not Mexico” as Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke in both Spanish and English during a news conference streamed live on Facebook. https://t.co/cHSRT9j53g
— KAMPro (@KAMasciarelli) March 27, 2019
Hidalgo, who is from Colombia and the first Latina elected as a judge in the county, responded to the initial comments by standing her ground.
“I have this blessing that I can speak Spanish. At least a third of the county speaks Spanish and I must use that skill that I have,” Hidalgo said. She added that this is especially true when there’s a disaster situation.