A sudden request by the Utah Democratic Party for the resignation of its first Latino outreach director has some Latino Democrats upset.
A news release from the Weber County Latino Democratic Caucus states the group stands unanimously united behind Melodia Gutierrez, calls the move a "horrible mistake" and asks for a special session of the state Democratic central committee to address Latino grievances.
"She was a hard worker and did anything that was needed," said Eulogio Alejandre, the chairman of the Weber County Latino Democratic Caucus.
He said before being asked to resign Thursday, Gutierrez made gains with Latino voters in Weber County, and he doesn't want those gains to be damaged.
"I will do everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen," he said. "The things she did will not be washed away."
Calls to numerous other Democratic and area Latino leaders for this story, including several calls to Gutierrez herself, went unanswered.
Maria O'Brien, of Salt Lake City, a Latino Democrat who has run for several offices, including Salt Lake County recorder, and who has two sisters who are California Congresswomen who have fundraised in Utah, said the issue she has with the move is the surprise factor.
"I would like to know a little bit more about why she was let go," O'Brien said. "It was like 'Here today and gone tomorrow.'"
She said most of the Latino community was a little upset with "how it came down the way it did."
"I was surprised to see it, frankly," she said. "It was really very confusing."
A blog at bobhenline.com, which is posted on Gutierrez's Facebook page, states that releasing specific reasons for her termination may be illegal because it is a personnel matter.
The blog also suggests that the state Democratic Party should be more transparent in the future and that such a move should not come as such a surprise.
The news release, which claims to be a representation of all Weber County Latino Democrats, states that Gutierrez has received an outpouring of support from many quarters of the Democratic Party.
"For Democrats to talk about fair working conditions and labor protection, we must practice what we preach," it quotes Alejandre as saying. "State Democratic leaders have abandoned principals for political expediency and we expect more from the Democratic Party."
Alejandre is quoted as saying for the Democratic Party to force out an "incredibly successful and talented organizer" without any input from the Latino community adds "further insult to injury."
The news release states that Gutierrez spent countless hours in Weber County before and after the general election in November, helping organize the county caucus.
It states that she went door to door on weekends to register new voters.
"When state party leaders can rationalize away the outrage of the Latino community, they have taken our support for granted," Alejandre is quoted as saying in the news release.
"The Utah Democratic Party has taken a huge step backward," states the release. "Outreach is about relationships. ... Ms. Gutierrez spent over a year building community connections, not only in Weber County, but around the state. Her successor will not only have to rebuild relationships, but will likely face greater resistance given these events."
Alejandre stated in the release that healing in Weber County will be difficult.
"Melodia inspired you Latinos to get involved, evidenced by the three executive committee members in the caucus who are in their early twenties," he states in the release.
Standard-Examiner reporter Bubba Brown contributed to this report.