Thank you for honoring the slain farmworkers and the importance of Cesar Chavez Day in your editorial. I understand why the Farm Day Committee wanted to focus on the “good here,” but the mass shooting in Half Moon Bay — the worst in San Mateo County’s history — hit home for not only the farming community but for all San Mateo County residents because of the many underlying issues like gun violence, mental health, and working and living conditions that must still be addressed.

Blaming and criticizing the organizers is easy but does not address the whole issue of being inclusive, thus, resulting in exclusion. Farm Day 2023 returned after a three-year hiatus, and the organizers have acknowledged that, at a minimum, they should have included the slain farmworkers in the “In Memoriam” section of the program. However, our elected leaders who had the honor of speaking at the event, such as our county supervisor and Half Moon Bay’s mayor, should also be held accountable. They had the opportunity to acknowledge the slain farmworkers and recognize the importance of Cesar Chavez Day and should have in their remarks.

The storms and this tragic shooting have been emotionally and physically trying for all of us, and a salve was needed and should have been given to us by our elected leaders who spoke at Farm Day. As the only Asian elected leader in San Mateo County representing Coastside constituents, I believe we must be the conscience and voice of the whole community that we serve, highlighting the struggles and needs of our marginalized and vulnerable communities. It is our privilege to nurture the best in our community, bringing us together during our times of jubilation and tribulation. The lesson learned from Farm Day 2023 goes beyond being inclusive.

Virginia Chang Kiraly

Menlo Park

Editor’s note: Virginia Chang Kiraly is a member of the San Mateo County Harbor District board and worked directly with survivors in the aftermath of the Jan. 23 shootings.

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(3) comments

John Charles Ullom

Chang Kiraly rarely gets anything right but she has when it comes to this one. Penrose.....could have said something. Anything. But Penrose is kind of gutless. She likes to pretend she is some sort of progressive and she might be. But she lacks the courage to stand up when things aren't right. Her stated convictions mean very little.

Penrose is lots of talk and very little action. She and politicos like her, are a big part of of every social problem.


Both John and Virginia have it wrong about Deborah. She wasn't in charge of the event. Unloading on her because she didn't take the stage at the end of the event and throw shade at the event organizers is nothing more than grievance politics. Clay had it right in his editorial. The event organizers should take it seriously.

John Charles Ullom

Penrose don’t need to toss shade at anybody. All she had to do was acknowledge the people who make the day possible.

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