2021 Election, Education, Featured, Sherrie Peif, Weld County, Windsor

UPDATED: Head of Windsor school bond campaign racially attacks parent who questioned board policies; removed from campaign

UPDATEAs of Sept. 7, 2021, Holly Dykstra is no longer the registered agent for Friends of Weld Re-4 Schools. She has been replaced by Katie Kennedy.

The Re-4 Board of Education President Jennifer Lieber sent this email to current school board candidate Trent Leisy: “The Friends of Weld Re-4 is a citizen-run committee that operates independently from the school district. We are aware of remarks made by one member of the committee that, as leaders of this school district, we strongly reject,” read in part, adding the board was made aware that Dykstra is no longer associated with the committee.

WINDSOR — A candidate for the Weld Re-4 School District Board of Education has sent a letter to the current board and the district superintendent asking for the removal of the woman running the campaign for nearly $200 million in capital improvement bonds after she verbally attacked another district parent on social media.

Trent Leisy, who previously served on the Re-4 Board of Education from 2005-2009, got involved after a Facebook post by the head of Friends of Weld Re-4 Schools — a multimillion-dollar campaign to build three new schools and expand several others in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District — attacked a Severance mom Saturday, calling her a “chihuahua,” telling her she needs to learn English and questioning her citizenship — all because the other mom questioned the recent actions of some of the school board members.

“I would like to know if it is customary for Weld Re-4 to have the face of the bond committee be a blatant racist toward a Latin member of the community,” Leisy wrote in his email, going on to point out that the woman in question, Holly Dykstra, is best friends with Jennifer Lieber, the school board president. “These messages will be (and are) published publicly for the voters of Re-4 to know.”

‘Mean Chihuahua’

Dykstra, the registered agent on the campaign, called Juli Paulson a “mean chihuahua,” after Paulson commented on one of Dykstra’s posts on her personal Facebook page, saying that judging the (board of education) experience requires more than a good resume.

Paulson, although she never mentioned it in her posts, is also the first vice chair for the Weld County Republican Party.

“You have to look for leadership skills and also knowledge about the Constitution,” Paulson wrote. “The board of education is not loyal to the political agenda of their state, they have to stand for their community’s needs.”

Paulson went on to criticize members’ actions at a recent meeting of the Weld Re-4 Board of Education.

“What a joke it was to see one of the board members (say they) have to deny the parents their rights to make a medical decision in the name of the “the greatest good” and see the same person in the high school stadium around more than 700 people with not a mask and her kid also with not a mask neither,” Paulson said. “To me that is pure hypocrisy. To be a leader, you have to do what you say. Because if the rule “is for you but not for me” you are just part of the problem and not the solution.”

First, Dykstra questioned if Paulson had kids in the district — she has two, one that just finished high school and one at Tozer Primary.

When Paulson reiterated that she was a mother, taxpayer and citizen of Weld Re-4 and hoped that people in the group would practice tolerance and respect for people with different ideas, Dykstra came back at her calling her a “mean chihuahua.”

“I do not know if that is an insult or it is accomplished,” Paulson responded. “But either way, if you want to argue with someone and win you will have to attack the fact and not the person. This is the best advice I can give you today, and for free.”

After Dykstra was contacted by Complete Colorado, she changed the mean chihuahua post to just say “I love you man.” She eventually removed the entire post from her feed after Leisy got involved in the conversation and called on Dykstra to step down from her position with Friends of Weld Re-4 Schools.

Questioning citizenship status

Before she removed the post however, Dykstra inferred Paulson was not literate and questioned her citizenship status.

“What is the fact?” Dykstra wrote. “In English please.”

At first Dykstra told Complete Colorado she had no comment, but then contacted Complete Colorado Sunday morning with the following written response:

“I called someone a Chihuahua,” Dykstra said in part. “That is not racist — I was comparing her to a yippy dog. Because I have heard her speak — and it reminds me of a yippy dog…As to asking if she is a legal citizen, it is a legitimate question. “She is from Colombia, and it is very difficult to emigrate (sic) to the United States legally, especially from that country. Just because she is involved in local groups doesn’t mean she is legal. So, I asked. It doesn’t make me a racist.”

Paulson immigrated to the US from Colombia — where she was an attorney — in 2015. She went through the naturalization process and became a US citizen in 2019.

“I came here because this is a free country,” Paulson told Complete Colorado. “And I do not give up my right to say what I think even if you do not share. I will make my point and I will always attack the facts and not the person.”

Dykstra told Complete Colorado Paulson’s points about the Constitution had no merit to the conversation at hand, and that they made no sense and that Paulson is “fixated” on the Constitution.

Sounds like a ‘yippy dog’

“I stand by my opinion that Yuli (sic) whatever her name is sounds like a yippy dog,” Dykstra said. “Whether that be a chihuahua or a miniature poodle or a schnauzer. I just happen to think Chihuahuas are the yippiest.”

Leisy publicly asked Dykstra to step down, to which she initially agreed, then retracted later in a personal message to him Sunday. Leisy posted to his Facebook page Sunday that voters in Re-4 should consider whether they are willing to give a district $180 million dollars after Dykstra’s posts.

“I encourage all Weld Re-4 voters to really think long and hard about this upcoming bond,” Leisy said. “The face of the bond committee, Holly Dykstra, has proven over the last 24 hours that she is a blatant racist and is clearly insensitive to the Latin community.”

Dykstra attempted to apologize on a separate feed on Sunday but didn’t get much support from Paulson or others following the feed.

“My apologies to you Juli, calling you a chihuahua was rooted in the fact that you talk really fast and it makes it hard to understand and follow what you are saying, not because English is your second language,” Dykstra said. “I admit, you have gotten on my nerves – much like a yippy little dog. That said, it was rude of me to say that directly to you – I should have just kept that annoyance in my head.”

Dykstra also attempted to explain her curiosity for Paulson’s immigration status.

“Good on you if you did come here legally, it was a simple question,” Dykstra wrote. “Because if you were not a legal citizen, I don’t believe you have any reason to get so involved in things.”

‘I am not a racist’

Paulson said she could not accept the apology as genuine.

“Sadly, this is not just the assumption that you did about me without any knowledge, this also offends many other members of the Latino community in Weld Re-4,” Paulson wrote. “If you want to argue with me about the board of education, you will have to talk about the fact that the community, in general, is very disappointed about their leadership. That I have an accent does not mean that I am a dummy.”

Dykstra eventually posted another apology saying it was bad timing on her part that she was already emotional from another issue.

“While there is no excuse to act like a bully,” Dykstra wrote. “I did just that. I am worn out with the constant friction that she and others have caused with a school board that is doing their level best to make informed decisions. So when Juli decided to comment on a respect FB post that I had done earlier in the week, I did the wrong thing and I reacted very emotionally. I am not racist, but I WAS being a bully. I lashed out and it was wrong of me to do that.

She also said that while no one will ever agree on everything, she wants everyone to work together for the sake of the kids.

“But it starts with me in this case,” she wrote. “I personally pledge to never be disrespectful in the way I was to Juli again.”

Paulson had not responded by press time.

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