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‘Unacceptable': Hispanic Montgomery Council Member Has Accent Mocked in Meeting

NBC Washington D.C. logo NBC Washington D.C. 3/4/2021 Telemundo 44 Staff and Andrea Swalec
a person sitting on a table: File photo. Nancy Navarro, president of the Montgomery County Council, listens during a hearing in Rockville, Maryland on Jan. 15, 2019. © Provided by NBC Washington D.C.

File photo. Nancy Navarro, president of the Montgomery County Council, listens during a hearing in Rockville, Maryland on Jan. 15, 2019.

A member of the Montgomery County Council says she’s in shock after a county employee and a contractor could be heard mocking her accent on Tuesday during a virtual meeting. 

Council Member Nancy Navarro, an immigrant from Venezuela and the only woman on the council, was speaking about the county’s vaccination campaign and inequalities faced by Latino and Black communities. Two people also on the video call could be heard reacting to what she said.

“I love how her accent comes out and [how she] pronounces words like she thinks they’re pronounced. Like, she says ‘represents’ and ‘hologram,’” a woman could be heard saying, mimicking her and laughing. 

“I heard ‘hologram’ and thought that was kind of interesting,” a man could be heard responding, also laughing.

“So cute,” the woman replied.

The woman is a council employee and the man is a contractor who provides technical support to My Montgomery Media, county officials said. 

Navarro called the mocking inappropriate.

"There are still these types of situations where people really think that it is completely acceptable and funny to make fun of someone’s accent," she told Telemundo 44, in Spanish. 

Her colleagues on the council agreed.

"I feel horrible," Council Member Gabe Albornoz said. “Nancy is not just a colleague; she is a great friend too. She has been a hero to our community."

“She doesn't deserve what happened yesterday,” he continued. “Nobody deserves what happened yesterday.”

Montgomery County Media also spoke out about the incident, saying in a letter to Navarro that its contractor's behavior was "unacceptable."

“Participants in conversations like these intend to make the subject of the comments appear to be less than, while normalizing the language and behaviors of bigotry,” CEO Nannette Hobson wrote. 

Measures against the contractor “have been and will be taken,” Hobson added, without specifying any disciplinary actions. 

The county’s human resources department and equal employment opportunity office are investigating the incident, Navarro and other sources told Telemundo 44. 

“We are aware of and are investigating this incident,” county spokesman Barry Hudson said in a statement. “Since it is a personnel matter, there will be no further comment at this time.” 

Navarro had a message for the community: “If you have an accent, wear it with pride and keep moving forward. This won’t stop us from achieving our dreams and our goals.”

Go here to watch this story on Telemundo 44.

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