Rainbowatonna and Mayor Thomas Kuntz come to an understanding
(ABC 6 News) – Following an incident last month where Owatonna Mayor Thomas Kuntz caused a stir in his city over a pride event, the group that organized the event and Mayor announced on Friday that they have come to a mutual understanding.
Earlier this summer he acknowledged he went to associated church where a pride event was scheduled to be held. He asked questions like if the church would have stripper poles in the sanctuary.
Since then, Kuntz has met with the group that hosted the event, Rainbowatonna, to hear their stories and experiences of discrimination directly.
Kuntz says he also worked on ways to make amends with a community he brought hurt to.
In a statement he says in part “Small-town values may make us uncomfortable with change and less open to people we don’t understand. I realized that the discomfort I have been experiencing is a minor compared to what some of our community members, neighbors, and especially young people, have experienced every day of their lives.”
“The first meeting that we had with mayor Tom we realized we had a long way to go,” said Nathan Black Chair of Rainbowatanna. “And building trust, building a relationship and getting him to fully understand the impact of his actions. But I want to acknowledge him, he stay in the conversation and participated with us to this point.”
Black believes the engagement that Mayor Kuntz has had with Rainbowatonna and other members of the LGBTQ+ community in his city has shown signs of improvement.
With the mayor’s statement…. Black says he is satisfied with the resolution they have made.
But he believes the city of Owatonna still has a ways to go in bringing equity and equality to all.
“One benefit of this public, visible conversations is that more people know about the work we’re going to do. And we have many, many more people that are excited to partner with us, to volunteer, to contribute,” said Black.