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Huntington Beach official resigns over comments about Islam

A Huntington Beach planning commissioner resigned this week after a backlash over comments he made online denigrating Islam.

Michael Hoskinson, who works as a real estate broker, stepped down in the wake of public criticism after a video of him giving a lecture on political correctness was posted on YouTube.

In the video, Hoskinson said: “I think Islam is definitely a threat. I don’t call it a religion at all.” He also criticized a group of Jewish intellectuals from the 1920s and railed against “leftists.”

Hoskinson was appointed to the commission by Councilman Erik Peterson in 2014. It is customary for each council member to choose a commissioner.

At a council meeting Monday night, Peterson declined to comment on Hoskinson’s resignation. Mayor Barbara Delgleize said Peterson had notified her of Hoskinson’s resignation Sunday.

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Delgleize had said last week that she received several calls from residents upset with Hoskinson’s online activity and demanding that he step down from the Planning Commission.

On Tuesday, Delgleize said she was glad the issue was resolved quickly.

“If you’re an elected official, or appointed by an elected official, you are held to a higher standard,” she said.

In an email, Hoskinson wrote last week that he was not antagonistic toward Islam and was proud of his service to the community. He had recently posted a statement on his Facebook page addressing his comments and social media activity.

He did not attend the council meeting Monday and could not be reached for comment after the announcement of his resignation.

Mahboob Akhter, a board member of the Orange County Islamic Foundation, said Tuesday that he wished Hoskinson had engaged the Muslim community rather than resign.

“He may have resigned simply because it was made public, but that doesn’t change things for the community,” Akhter said. “We need to bridge the gaps. I don’t want to criticize him; I think he hasn’t had exposure to other views.”

At the council meeting, members of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council, an organization that promotes religious and cultural diversity, showed their support for the change on the commission.

“It isn’t just our beautiful beaches and our wonderful facilities, it’s the people, it’s the community,” said Peggy Price, a founding member of the group. “Every one of the people in this community is your constituent and they all deserve a voice. So I am grateful that the decision was made … so that whoever comes into that role sees every constituent as a member of this community.”

Peterson announced Clem Dominguez as his new commission appointee. Dominguez had been serving on the General Plan Committee.

benjamin.brazil@latimes.com

Brazil writes for Times Community News.


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