A year ago, with the country undergoing major social change, I proposed that Maplewood create an Equity Commission. In my experience of 18 years as an elected official, I have seen the benefits that our boards and commissions have brought to our community. We have an abundance of intelligent and engaged citizens who can help coordinate issues of diversity, social justice, transparency and inclusion between Council, City staff and the other boards and commissions.
Most of our commissions act in an advisory capacity, leveraging citizen expertise and enthusiasm to make recommendations that traverse and connect the different governmental entities listed above. An example of this is the Sustainability Commission I initiated. The following is a link to their page on the City website and their accomplishments:
I feel that we have lost a year of potential progress while the Council studies equity issues through workshops and hired consultants. It would be helpful if commission members were included on that journey. There is nothing wrong with Council studying equity, but waiting until the academic process is complete and then deciding on creating a commission means that equity work in the city has and will be delayed for yet another year when we could have been engaging our citizens and taking tangible steps toward creating a more inclusive, just, diverse and equitable community.