Representative Kilmartin Receives Apology for Accusations of Racism

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Newport City representative Duncan Kilmartin received an apology on Friday after being accused of using racist language on the House floor during a debate last Wednesday.

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The apology came from Rep. Jean O’Sullivan of Burlington, who had responded to Kilmartin’s statements while debating on a bill regarding education.

According to an account by the Vermont Press Bureau, Kilmartin had stated:

“We are an all-white population. Texas scores for all-white population in Texas – not the Hispanics and other minority groups – actually do better than Vermont. When you parse the statistics, we are not doing as well as we claim because we compare ourselves continually to other states which have large minority populations.”

According to the Vermont Press Bureau, O’Sullivan responded:

“I don’t want ever to hear a conversation that sounds like it came out of 1838, not 2014. Conflating academic achievement with race is offensive to me and to everybody. I cannot sit in this chamber and listen to that kind of dribble.”

In his remarks on the House floor on Wednesday, Kilmartin was citing statistics that Art Woolf, a University of Vermont economics professor, had published online at VT Digger. You can read Woolf’s article by clicking here.

On Thursday, Kilmartin addressed his remarks from the previous day. According to the Vermont Press Bureau, Kilmartin stated:

“In my entire life, I have never been accused of being a racist and I think the accusation that bothers me the most – notwithstanding years of experience as a trial lawyer where passions can run high – I was accused of conflating race with educational achievement, as if that were some cardinal sin, and it was equated to being dribble. I’m very sorry that I had to do this because to accuse another person or to imply that they’re a racist, based upon a quotation of federal statistics, I think is appalling.”

The spat between the two was short lived, and O’Sullivan apologized on Friday. In fact, the two quickly decided to put the incident behind them, agreeing to meet for dinner.

“I received a genuine apology, and everyone there knew that it was genuine,” Kilmartin said in an interview on Friday. “We can both be passionate, and there have been times that I’ve run across the line, and had to apologize. Like Shakespeare said, “all’s well, that ends well.”

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