Loralee Bergdall, who identified herself as a community activist, read the groups statement at the Press Conference. Photo by Mike Rhodes.

Madera Candidate Denounces Witches

Loralee Bergdall, who identified herself as a community activist, read the groups statement at the Press Conference. Photo by Mike Rhodes.

Mark Reed, who is a candidate for Eastern Madera’s 5th District supervisor, mailed thousands of mailers with inflammatory language, explicitly naming 5 local women, including their first and last names as supporters of the opposition. Reed’s deliberate wording such as ‘witch’, ‘democrat’, ‘socialist’, ‘LGBTQ’, ‘BLM,’ and ‘SEIU’, while inherently are words some community members agree, and even identify with, in the context of a polarized local election, in the midst of proud white supremacists and ideological extremists, has created an unsafe environment for those outed on these mailers.

At a Press Conference in downtown Fresno on June 2, 2022 some of the women named in the mailing spoke out about the threats and intimidation that followed Reed’s inflammatory attack.  Reporters were asked not to mention the names of the women in the mailer (unless they gave permission).

Brooke Oliver who spoke at the Press Conference said “the MAGA movement wants to set us back 50 years, but by calling women witches and calling them out it harkens back to being burned at the stake 100 or 200 years ago.

These are some of the statement by women impacted by the mailer:

I am a Christian woman and I want to say…

We will not be oppressed.

We will not be intimidated.

To our Eastern Madera County community,

My sisters and I stand today on the shoulders of Emmeline Pankurst, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and more…..

We invite and encourage our community residents, who feel marginalized, to stand on our shoulders and be lifted up to choose your vote without intimidation or suppression.

Eastern Madera County has ZERO tolerance for intimidation, oppression and hate.

From the second individual who could not be here:

I am a founder of Oakhurst LGBTQ+, a social media networking space for locals, since larger spaces were often filled with hate and attacks. I am also a professor and an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. Both my personal and professional code of ethics are to be accepting of all, and to call out instances of injustice that I observe.

This flier won’t stop me from doing the work I do to create safety for marginialized folks in this community. I grew up here and both of my parents have dedicated significant amounts of charitable work here as well. To be attacked for my sexuality is nothing new, its happened before. However, it hurts to be judged for something that I can’t control, anymore than I can control my Jewish heritage, or my brown eyes.I have felt more fear when going out in public places and been experiencing panic attacks daily since i was made aware of this attack on me, as well as receiving messages of hate on social media. As we celebrate Pride this month, I honor the strong women like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson who also stood against hate or intolerance. I am proud to be following their example and fighting for what is right. I’m grateful for the love and support I’ve been shown, and I will continue to use my voice to challenge those who try to harm others.

Lastly, from the third individual:

As I am unable to take part in the the press conference due to recently undergoing surgery on Friday-and am not feeling up to it, I am writing my thoughts about being included with four other local women on Mark Reed’s latest mailers.

I don’t think Socialism means what Reed thinks it means. I am not ashamed of being a person who cares for others and wants the best for all. I encourage you to look up the platform for the Peace & Freedom Party to see if you don’t agree with most things included in the platform. That being said, all my actions and comments regarding Reed are because I am a social justice advocate wanting justice for all, not because I am a Socialist. I have called out his lies and discrepancies. I stood up to his accusations against me and others. This flyer has all five of us feeling unsafe in our own communities with many of us being here for decades. This is known as a conservative community with many hateful and angry people. This makes some of us feel uncomfortable going out in public and wondering if someone might attack us after seeing our profile pictures on social media. Some are worried about their jobs and if they may lose them due to this. It comes across as sexist, homophobic, racist, and generally hateful.

You can find the groups entire statement from the Press Conference here:

Mountain-Women-Speak-Out

A 3 minute video is available here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ral0ljiMOLw

You can support these women by attending a rally to be held on Saturday, June 4 at 11 a.m. at the corner of highways 41 & 49 in Oakhurst.

  • Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

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