PO Box 542
Milton-Freewater, OR 97862
The City of Echo, Oregon, in western Umatilla County, has been in the news recently and not for good cause. The town, of about 700, has incidentally been the face of homophobic bigotry thanks to Louis “Lou” Kauhane Nakapalau. Nakapalau is a member of the town’s City Council.
In October, it was reported that Nakapalau had commented on the Kumu Hina Facebook page for “A Place In The Middle,” a film about a transgender woman in Hawaii. Nakapalau called the filmmaker “queerbait” and said he would spit on the filmmaker’s grave when he “croak[ed] of AIDS (Anally Injected Death Serum).” Nakapalau responded to those reports by blaming the media for getting the facts wrong and deceiving the public. His colleague, Councilman Robert Harris, issued an apology for Nakapalau’s words and vowed to do all he could to try to keep this from happening again.
On Friday, it was reported by KAPP-KVEW, that Nakapalau was charged with nine counts of possessing child pornography in Vancouver, Washington in February 2000. He served 60-days in jail but for some reason was never required to register as a sex offender upon completion of his sentence. Nakapalau was elected in 2016. His seat had no candidate. He won with eight write-in votes.
Nakapalau is an embarrassment and he has tarnished the reputation of everyone that calls the Walla Walla Valley home. He misrepresents the virtues that make this region, one of the best places in America, to live, work and raise a family. He shames the honor of those public servants who have lead before him.
Nakapalau’s grossly inappropriate words show his willingness to abuse and bully others. His convictions from 2000, show this is nothing new. The days are numbered for politicians who use their positions of power to divide and harm those that they serve. The duty of public service is to serve everyone — including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.
In Nakapalau’s bigotry, he has disqualified himself from the position he holds. His convictions involving the possession of pornography, which involved the sexual abuse and/or exploitation of children, make him unable to be involved in the things necessary for someone serving as a member of City Council. Therefore it is absolutely clear that Nakapalau must resign immediately or be recalled by his constituents without delay.
It is the moral responsibility of Mayor Jeanie Hampton and the other four members of city council to immediately issue a personal statement calling for Nakapalau’s resignation from City Council. These leaders have an opportunity to speak out and send a clear message that Nakapalau’s virtues — both his words and actions — do not represent those of the people of Echo.
Public servants should always strive to be role models for the next generation of leaders. The people of Echo should immediately organize and begin collecting signatures to recall Nakapalau. Mayor Hampton and City Council should do all they can to help ensure the public is aware of the process required to recall an elected official in Oregon.
Now is the time for courageous leaders in Echo to rise up and answer the call of public service. It’s time for decency to be restored and for the city’s leaders to represent the best of us — not the worst. For centuries the Walla Walla people have lived on these lands. To see the best of us, we need to only look at the life of the late Walla Walla Chief Carl Sampson.
Chief Peo Peo Mox Mox (Yellowbird), as they called him, represented the best of his people. He was a veteran of the US Air Force, and devoted his life to passing down and protecting the traditions of his people, to the next generation. Chief Yellowbird served his people and lived a life that few could match. He protected Walla Wallan children and gave them every reason to look up at him as a role model — even after his death last month.
Echo, now it’s time to hear your voice! The world is listening.
-The Editorial Team
Forward provides the people of the Walla Walla Valley with fresh, forward-thinking analysis of government and politics. It is a part of the Rise Media Digital Network.