Baker City mayor resigns weeks after posting anti-LGBTQ meme

By Antonio Sierra (OPB)
July 13, 2023 12:13 a.m.

Mayor says he planned move out of town before social media post

A blue sign on a lightpost states "Welcome Historic Baker City". The historic Geiser Grand Hotel and Baker Tower loom in the background.

A welcome sign in downtown Baker City, Ore., March 22, 2023.

Antonio Sierra / OPB

Baker City Mayor Matt Diaz resigned Thursday, but he isn’t attributing it to the controversy he embroiled himself in over the past several weeks.


Diaz announced his resignation toward the end of a nearly three-hour city council meeting. Reading from a prepared statement, Diaz said he was moving out of town and would no longer be able to serve as mayor. He set his resignation date for Sunday.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as councilor and mayor of this beautiful city,” he said. “I am grateful for my time here and the friendships I have built.”


Left unsaid was any mention of the anti-LGBTQ meme he posted on Facebook in June that positioned four Pride flags to form a swastika, which spread on social media and spurred calls for his resignation.

Diaz defended the meme in the days that followed but he declined to talk about it at the Thursday meeting as supporters and opponents continued to use public comment time to argue about the mayor and his meme. Diaz later told the Baker City Herald that he started planning his move before he made the Facebook post.

Before Diaz’s announcement, Councilor Beverly Calder made a motion to force Diaz’s resignation from the City Council, but it failed to pass after deadlocking on a 3-3 vote.

Diaz’s upcoming resignation ends a short but eventful stint in Baker City politics. A food truck owner and pastor, he was first elected to the City Council in 2022 promising in his campaign materials to bring “a Biblical and Constitutional world view” to city government. The Council elects the mayor in Baker City rather the voters, and after Calder was stripped of the title over critical comments she made about the city manager, the Council elevated Diaz into the role not long into his first term.

Although Diaz did not comment directly on the controversy, one of this final votes involved a diversity, equity and inclusion statement the city drafted that included support for “employees’ differences” in “gender identity and expression” and “sexual orientation.” He was the only City Council member to vote against the resolution.

Diaz is the second Oregon mayor to resign this week after making discriminatory social media posts. Former Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer resigned Monday after making posts in a private Facebook post that denigrated women, immigrants, non-English speakers and people who are LGBTQ.


Related Stories