By 1808Delaware

At Monday’s meeting of Delaware City Council, members engaged in a lengthy discussion and review of a City Manager Report Regarding Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The result of that conversation was movement toward creating a task force group to further those goals, both internally with local government and also through the entire community.

The subject of diversity and inclusion had last come up at Council’s June 22 meeting. At that time, after hearing a call to action, Council members responded with the idea of a working group to make recommendations to Council. City Manager Tom Homan was charged with doing research on diversity and how other communities are addressing the issue.

It was the City Manager’s report that formed the basis for Monday’s discussion.

Homan began by noting that his report does two things as a starting point. First, it looks internally at what the City is doing and envisions a third party audit of operations as has taken place in other communities. Second, it anticipates an ongoing dialogue with Council and the community.

The City Manager further stressed that this is not easy work, and also noted that the national and local conversations on race have changed dramatically in recent months in what he referred to as a “paradigm shift.”

In terms of engaging the community, Homan said that the process could take advantage of the individuals and organizations already engaged. Council would need to discuss how to organize the effort, he added. One possible model exists with the City of Dublin, which is a couple of steps ahead of Delaware in creating such a body.

After a number of citizen comments on the subject, discussion turned to how best to organize and launch the task force. The COVID-19 limitation of ten people for in person meetings would have an impact, Mayor Carolyn Riggle said, but she stressed that that cannot be allowed to halt the process. Council members shared thoughts about ways to encourage participation by underrepresented communities to make the process truly representative and diverse, and the role of a facilitator to bring people together and focus discussion and energy.

The discussion concluded with Homan committing to getting the working documents from Dublin out to Council members, and he and Councilman Drew Farrell indicated that they could share samples from other communities. The goal would be to have legislation ready that would formalize the task force group and to adopt some initial objectives and guidelines.

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