STOCKTON (CBS13) — At an event to promote reading, Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva went off-script and discussed school shootings and condom use with elementary school students on Thursday.
Silva spoke to third graders about the deadly shooting at Stockton’s Cleveland School and told fifth graders about an anti-condom campaign he once ran as a high-school student.
The mayor is trying to downplay the controversy, saying he’s been giving the same speech for a long time, and nobody’s been offended until now.
“I didn’t mean to offend anybody,” he said. “I was just telling a story and my experiences.”
It was a visit to promote reading.
“Yesterday was Rotary Read-in,” said Lincoln Unified School District Superintendent Tom Uslan. “That’s not typically part of our program.”
But Silva went off-script in his remarks to Lincoln Elementary students on Thursday.
Some parents say Silva was just plain inappropriate.
“I’m not comfortable with it, no, not at all,” said Jaime Lopez.
The mayor brought up Stockton’s 1989 Cleveland Elementary shooting that killed five students to a class of third-graders.
“I just tell about my life, and my experiences and try to inspire and motivate the kids,” he said.
What did he tell them?
“My grandmother was a first-grade teacher at Cleveland School, and one of my mentors was a second-grade teacher that did get shot,” he said.
When asked if it was appropriate to talk about that with third graders, he said, “Well, I think it is because it’s part of Stockton’s history.”
He then talked to a fifth-grade glass about an anti-condom campaign he once ran in high school.
“I think he’s probably out of line for that,” Lopez said.
Though some may disagree, Silva insists it was an age-appropriate discussion—an example of how he got involved as a student trustee for the school board.
“I didn’t even get into what a condom was, or what it’s used for,” he said. “All I said is I fought so it wasn’t passed out on our campuses.”
What he said was clearly enough to raise eyebrows at the school district—it sent a message to their parents explaining what happened.
“I think the mayor went on some tangents that weren’t absolutely necessary to his purpose,” Uslan said.
Silva said his comments were a small portion of a 30-minute talk he gave to both classes. He says the majority of his time was spent talking to kids about their plans for the future.
He says he will no longer bring up condoms in his future speeches.