BREAKING: Capital Metro board member resigns amid racial comment controversy

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Beverly Silas, vice chair of the Capital Metro Board of Directors, resigned Tuesday following comments she made about hiring an African-American as the agency’s chief executive officer and president at an Aug. 9 workshop.

Capital Metro released a statement Tuesday morning confirming Silas’ resignation.

“Silas was appointed to the board by Travis County, and they will begin the process of appointing a new board member,” Mariette Hummel, Capital Metro communications specialist, stated. “Silas has been on the board since 2010 and was serving her third 3-year term, most recently as vice chair.”

Silas, who is African-American, made the comments at an Aug. 9 work session in which the board discussed the search process and candidate profile for Capital Metro’s next president and CEO. The regional transit agency’s current president and CEO Linda Watson announced in July that she would retire at the end of 2017.

Silas, who was on the committee that helped hire Watson in 2010, said she told Assistant City Manager Robert Goode, who was also serving on the search oversight committee, that she would be opposed to hiring an African-American man—and to a lesser extent—an African-American woman when that search for candidates was beginning.

“One of the biggest challenges we will have is deciding which one of those qualified people is the best fit for Austin,” Silas said.

She added that an African-American president and CEO would “have a hard time here in the city just because of where Austin is period.”

Silas, who also functions as the board’s Travis County representative, announced her resignation at a Travis County Commissioners Court Oct. 3 apologizing for her remarks and adding that her remarks were not what was in her heart.

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt thanked Silas for her service over the years and hoped to receive more in the future.

 

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