Senator apologizes for racially insensitive remarks

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An old drinking fountain preserved at the Henry Ford museum in Michigan.

Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, apologized Thursday for using the words "Negro" during an interview and "colored" during a Senate committee hearing last week.

“Some say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” Honeyford said in a written statement. “I’m here to say that’s not always true. Many have approached me this week to tell me that a 76-year-old man doesn’t always use language that is appropriate in 2015. I sincerely appreciate the people who took the time to tell me that some of the language I have used has been hurtful to them.

“Even my wife has weighed in on this issue. I am deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused; it was certainly not my intent to offend anyone."

Honeyford, who is white, represents the 15th Legislative District, which is eastern Yakima County. That district's population is 55 percent Hispanic.

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Jim Honeyford

Last week during a Senate Ways & Means Committee hearing in Olympia, Honeyford used the word "colored" while discussing how poor people commit a disproportionate number of crimes and that people of color are heavily represented among the poor, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported. The paper also reported that in multiple interviews during the following days, Honeyford had said he wasn’t sorry for his wording.

In a phone interview early this week with a KIMA-TV reporter in Yakima about that language, he used the word "Negro." That prompted further criticism from Yakima Valley residents.

  

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John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government. He can be followed on Twitter: @johnstang_8