The Columbia Heights City Council voted Monday to censure one of its members who is accused of making a racist phone call to a biracial candidate for office.
The council voted 4-0 to censure KT Jacobs and passed an added motion asking her to resign her seat. The meeting attracted a few dozen people in person and several more virtually, and two police officers were on hand.
A report from outside investigator Red Cedar Consulting found Jacobs violated the panel's code of conduct when she called council candidate Justice Spriggs July 24 and questioned his racial identity, including asking which of his family members were people of color. After accepting the report at the council's Sept. 28 meeting, city staff — at the direction of the mayor and council — drafted a resolution to censure Jacobs and remove her from boards and commissions.
After the vote, Mayor Amáda Márquez Simula asked Jacobs if she would resign, to which Jacobs replied: "I will not resign."
When pressed again, Jacobs told the council: "You're asking the question — I've answered it."
The crowd responded with boos and another audience member exclaimed, "You're fired" and "Get out!"
"You should be ashamed of yourself," said resident Kiki Latham, who is on two city committees. "You need to remove yourself."
Resident Nikki Wakal said she was angry about the comments Jacobs made.
"I am here because her actions towards Justice are unacceptable, and somebody who acts like that should not be representing me or my city," Wakal said after the vote.
Spriggs, a 26-year-old, fourth-year medical student at the University of Minnesota, finished second in the primary and will be on the ballot Nov. 8. He told the council about the incident at a July 25 meeting — the day after he said he got a phone call in which the caller gave a fake name and began questioning him about his racial identity and qualifications for office.
Jacobs, whose term expires in 2025, apologized to Spriggs, her council colleagues and residents of the north metro suburb after the incident came to light, but has not commented further.
The council voted Aug. 1 to hire an outside firm to investigate the accusations. According to the city, Red Cedar Consulting has not yet been paid because the file remains active. The anticipated cost of the investigation is expected be between $5,000 and $8,000.
Jacobs acknowledged the call was placed from her personal cellphone, but said it was made by an extended family member who was not authorized to use the phone. Jacobs told investigators her husband's niece made the call.
Based on the investigator's findings, the council drafted the resolution to censure Jacobs for "engaging in harassing and offensive communications with a citizen, engaging in abusive conduct, personal charges, or verbal attacks upon the character of the citizen in violation of the Columbia Heights City Council handbook, and being untruthful regarding the July 24, 2022 phone call."
The council's resolution also addressed Spriggs: "The City Council as a whole offers its apology and regret that a member of the public would be subjected to the level of inappropriate communications detailed by the citizen in a conversation with a City Council member."