Those who advocate for people with disabilities say Fort Ann mayor's post 'sets us back'
December 03, 2018 06:26 PM
FORT ANN - At a dollar store in Queensbury called Just A Buck, you'll find all the typical items. If it wasn't for a small sign on the front door of the Queensbury shop, you wouldn't have any idea that this store has an added purpose.
It's run by CWI, a non-profit service agency that advocates for people with disabilities and finds jobs for them.
Many of those who work there stocking shelves and running the register, like Lea Matson, are disabled. A few years ago, we would have referred to them differently.
"The words 'mental retardation' disappeared. It's people with developmental disabilities now, " said Mark Donahue, CEO of CWI.
Donahue says a Facebook post by Denis Langlois, the mayor of the village of Fort Ann, "sets us back decades."
Langlois urged people to vote Republican in the mid-term elections, and if not, they should sign themselves into the mental health unit because they are the 'R-word,' a term used to describe people who are developmentally disabled.
When asked what she thinks when people use that word, Lea Matson said, "Wrong. It's not right what they say. It's bad."
We called Langlois at his home and at the Village Hall Monday, but he didn't respond.
Later Monday afternoon, the village board held its first meeting since Langlois' inflammatory post. NewsChannel 13's news partner, the Post-Star, reports Langlois read a statement at the meeting in which he reiterated that he plans to seek re-election and has no plans to resign. The Post-Star reports Langlois said the post was political and not meant to mock anyone.
Back at CWI, Noel Granger, whose brother, Duncan is a person with disabilities, calls Langlois' post "discouraging and upsetting" and thinks her brother would too. "I think he would find it demeaning. Especially in the way that it was used," Granger said. "Especially where it was used in such a disparaging manner."
CWI invites the mayor, or anyone to come visit them and see how they help individuals with disabilities reach their potential, and they hope others see that using derogatory terms serves no useful purpose.
"I find it disheartening. It's almost like here we go again," said Donahue.
Updated: December 03, 2018 06:26 PM
Created: December 03, 2018 06:01 PM
Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved