'Not backing down', Tulare Mayor host 'private' forum

The Mayor of Tulare say he's not backing down from controversial ag comments made on social media. Mayor Carlton Jones held a private forum Thursday night at the Senior Citizen Center in Tulare. The crowd was divided as some people held picket signs in protest outside.

Jones turned down those not on the guest list for the private meeting. He told attendees that the meeting was open discussion to give people an opportunity to speak with him about any issues.

Jones then address the crowd about the remarks he made Facebook. In part, 'Ag strips the natural resources and contaminates our ground water and air. Ag causes asthma and valley fever, cancer and kills bees."

Those comments were picked up by the Facebook group, "My Job Depends on Ag". Jones explained that his words were taken out of context and could've been worded better.

"Out of this long conversation they took a small segment of my conversation where I listed my concerns of the ag community. We talked about ground water pollution, air quality, chemicals that cause cancer and those types of things", said Jones.

Jones defended his remarks and went on to explain that he isn't anti-agriculture but raises concern about how the industry works.

"Some people have an issue with me saying those things. I will never apologize. Being born and raised here, I have always been a part of Ag. I know for a very long time there are issues that people have tried to fix and work on, " said Jones.

Despite the mayor's attempt to clarify, some people said they plan to attend the city council meeting June 5th to voice their opinions.

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