Carlson resigns from police & fire commission
By Taylor Hale
STEVENS POINT – Stevens Point Police & Fire Commissioner Ron Carlson has resigned, stating that Mayor Mike Wiza would not reappoint him to avoid having “all white, middle-aged men,” in the commission. Carlson resigned one month early of his potential reappointment, sending a notification to Wiza on March 17.
“After meeting with you on March 5th to discuss department head interviews with the police chief candidates you told me I would not be reappointed by the common council when my term expired. When I questioned you as to why your reply was the council does not want a Police and Fire Commission made of all white middle-aged males,” Carlson said in his statement to Wiza.
Carlson is a police veteran with 43 years of community service. He retired from the police department in 2010 after 32 years of service, leaving as assistant police chief.
“To add insult to injury, when I said I will quit immediately you asked me not to, just in case no one else applied for the vacancy. I guess I was good enough then even if I was a white, middle-aged man,” Carlson added.
Wiza said that he did use the words “white, middle-aged men,” but said they were the blunt words used by some members of the council.
“I’ve known Ron a very long time, and have a good amount of respect for him and his service. I felt an obligation to bring him in and let him know why I wasn’t going to recommend him for reappointment.,” Wiza said. “The words weren’t my words, those were the words that came from some on council, and I don’t think that anyone needs to go very far to find out how critical some of the council has been.”
Wiza said that he feels skills and qualifications should be the leading factor in selecting commission members, rather than gender, race, or religion.
City Council President Meleesa Johnson has pushed for more diverse city staff and noted in a recent social media post that “diversity,” doesn’t exclude white males.
“I have repeatedly and publicly called for greater diversity on the PFC, a commission that has historically been all white and all male. However, a call for greater diversity is not a call for the exclusion of ‘white middle-aged males.’ Anyone who purposely and willfully conflates my call for diversity with the exclusion of anyone group is either ignorant of what diversity means or is intent on dividing. Either is shameful,” Johnson said.