By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Letter to Readers: Emails to official are downright appalling

Last week, I wrote that none of the letters sent to the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners about Commissioner Mary Starrett’s attempt to add scientifically questionable information to the county’s Public Health website contained threats or more than the mildest of profanity.

On Friday, Starrett shared two letters with me that she had not forwarded to the county, emailed to her on Jan. 26 and Jan. 29.

They were appalling.

Both were from men who said they objected to her stance on the COVID-19 pandemic, but neither contained reasoned arguments.

Instead, they were filled with profanity, much of it directed at her gender. Both expressed a wish that she be infected with COVID-19; one said he hoped she would die of it. One from an email with the name Andrew Colton, the other calling himself Joe Blow, signed JFB.

There is no excuse for such abuse.

“I tried to ignore these when they first came in, and chose not to subject staff to seeing these,” she told me.

I’m not sure of my opinion about that; I can see arguments on both sides.

Regardless, neither Starrett nor anyone else should be treated so offensively.

Disagree with your elected officials? Want to either endorse or object to a political action? Feel anger about their political actions? Fine, tell them so, publicly; that’s part of engaging in a democratic society. That’s what the board’s public comment feature is for.

But when you call them obscenities, wish illness and death on them, attack them for their gender, it stops being about politics and becomes merely an excuse to bully and abuse.

There are hundreds of examples throughout the public record of the county board of commissioners from constituents and commissioners, expressing passionate disagreement and anger and done with civility. People who don’t believe their testimony is having sufficient effect may vote against their elected officials, or attempt to recall them, even run against them in the next election.

There is no excuse for addressing anyone merely to abuse them.

Nicole Montesano, government reporter



I’m certain it’s possible that Commissioners received email that crossed the line, and I agree that’s inappropriate and not effective.


The board meeting where Starrett very clearly said “I’ve never seen such a level of profanity that I have seen in some emails, It’s been disturbing. I’ve never seen anything like that. There have been threats and horrible narratives.” Was on JANUARY 27th.

Only one of the two emails referenced in this note had been received at the time she made this statement. However, her statement clearly suggests that not only were there more than one inappropriate email, that it was a pattern of inappropriate emails.

I’d like to know which emails bothered her so much on January 27th? Was it just the one email? A lot of people put a lot of effort into clear, polite requests to their elected representative, and to have her dismiss their messages as full of profanity and threats on the basis of a SINGLE email is extremely frustrating.


I'm surprised to read the above. You guys have been stirring this pot for years. The result is the usual woke crowd who comments on every article about Starrett.


Thank you Nicole for your professional and thorough follow-up with this article. I agree, no one should ever stoop to this level. We have all seen Starrett (and Berschauer) treat others horribly - both county employees and members of the public. That doesn't justify treating them that way. Everyone needs to be professional and respectful. Rise above the temptation to get in the trough with them. Related to this, does this imply that Starrett is conducting county business on an email other than her county email? It says she elected to not share these with county staff. Where did these emails come from/to? If she's using a personal email for county business, then that email account is subject to public records laws - meaning all content is public record.


Rotwang -- Not sure how anyone could view the Free Oregon video of Commissioner Starrett and then accuse me of 'stirring the pot', but okay. Also, what alternative would you prefer.. should people who disagree with their elected official just stay silent?

I read every single one of the emails submitted as public comment prior to Jan. 27th, and it was my observation that the majority of people who identified themselves as constituents were opposed to her actions AND that they nearly all took the time to write careful, detailed emails outlining their reasoning (as opposed to those who supported her, who mostly just sent in a form email via Free Oregon). As the prior article stated, the worst phrases in those emails were perhaps impolite, but certainly not abusive or threatening. You can read them yourself if you want:


Megan - I am a conservative and a strong supporter of President Donald J Trump. Its hard to call myself a republican because I believe the D's and R's are basically a uni-party, one in the same. As being a supporter of President Trump I have been called racist, homophobic, sexist, a nazi, a deplorable, domestic terrorist, on and on. By people who don't even know my name let alone anything about me. Is that a statement you can take on face value or do I need to detail every instance with names, dates and quotes?

And to say "I’m certain it’s possible that Commissioners received email that crossed the line, and I agree that’s inappropriate and not effective. However." shows your opinion that the ends justifies the means. You could finish that sentence - However..., they had it coming. However..., what do they expect. However..., you ain't seen nothing yet.

The hatred I see directed at these two commissioners, is over the top.

Don Dix

By reading this article, one should realize it is not just 'possible' some responses contained foul and offensive language -- it's a reality, period. How one gets beyond that is puzzling at best.


I agree with Sunrise when she questions the source of these letters. There was a previous claim of emails from county employees that did not show up on county servers. Did they get added to the public record? Are these the only two letters received by the commissioner on her personal email?....yet no communication of this type on the county website?.....again?

David Bates

Glad to see this follow-up by Nicole, and I share the sentiments here whole-heartedly: The two letters Commissioner Starrett received that are cited here were clearly out of bounds and beyond the pale; no constructive purpose is served by going after any elected official or public servant with a breach of civility like that. It's offensive, it's wrong, and I'm sorry she received those. That said, I remain bothered that she felt compelled to conflate those with testimony written by nearly 50 others who objected to what she was trying to do and stuck to the issues.

Nicole Montesano

Readers, you are a discerning lot, and keep me on my toes! My apologies for being unclear. The letters were not sent to a private email address; they were sent to Ms. Starrett's official county email address.


It is rude and does a person's argument no good to act out like that. Pretty minimal considering what I read about those collecting signatures faced. At least they weren't trying to sabotage a legitimate political process by actively trying sabotage signature sheets. Or harassing them at the county fair.

Angela Flood

Nicole...on the email going to her county address but not being included in the 1st NR request...why should she have to forward them to the county for inclusion? When the request was made, she does not get to decide what is excluded. Just curious the reasoning the county has for not including it in the first run.

Scott Gibson

Amen, Nicole. I have a number of disagreements with decisions and opinions made by our commissioners, but there is no room for profanity, abusive language, or, God forbid, threats to anyone. These individuals were elected to their positions and they deserve the respect that comes with winning in the democratic process. Beyond that, no citizen deserves such malevolent treatment for expressing their views, whether elected or not. Above all, we must retain civil discourse if we are to move forward as a county, state, and nation.

Angela Flood

I have the emails. I got them from the county. While they are wildly inappropriate in a civil discourse, they aren't all that. I've gotten worse in my work as a citizen advocate. Way worse.
If someone wants them, send me an email ( and I will forward them to you.
There is a connection in phrasing between the two emails and a certain writing style in one of them that makes it stand out. Something you don't see very often anymore. If you see it, don't post it. It's a tell and I am using it as my ace card if I can locate the original sender(s). Both emails have been tested. They are valid and still active. But, those email addresses have zero google history and have not been captured by any other topics. That makes me think they were created just for the purpose of sending these messages. Since I don't have the original emails, I can't pull the IP. And I don't want to go back to the county to get the original messages forwarded...

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