The Monona City Council has adopted an official statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion after discussion of an ad-hoc committee on diversity was tabled twice in recent weeks.
Drafted by City Councilor Kristie Goforth and co-sponsored by City Councilor Molly Grupe, the statement reads, in part:
“The City of Monona is committed to welcoming all people – regardless of their race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or ability – to foster a sense of belonging and opportunity across our community and among our staff. Together we strive to remove barriers to living, working, and thriving in our city because we believe that diverse perspectives make Monona a great place to visit and call home.”
Adoption of the statement was approved unanimously by council members Monday night.
“This is something we’ve all been talking a lot about, I know a lot of municipalities have made strides in this area and… I also felt that we’re in the process of making a key hire with our police chief and the timing seemed positive to put it up sooner than later,” Goforth said on her motivation in drafting the statement and bringing it to the council for approval.
Grupe echoed that, saying the search for a new police chief in Monona has added a sense of urgency in taking action on issues of equity.
“This is, I think, a very small yet potentially significant gesture that we can make to our community about our concerted efforts to be more thoughtful and intentional about diversity, equity, and inclusion right now as we contemplate hiring a new police chief and other officers to our public safety department,” Grupe said on her co-sponsorship.
Despite unanimous approval, concerns were raised from council members regarding the timing of adopting the statement prior to the potential formation of a city-led ad-hoc diversity committee.
Formation of the ad-hoc committee has gone up for a vote and been tabled twice so far this year, with another vote on the issue set to take place at the council’s May 3 meeting.
City Councilors Nancy Moore and Jennifer Kuhr both questioned the need to rush the adoption of an official city statement without ample time for further community input, though City Councilor Kathy Thomas said no action at all on the city’s part may appear worse than hurried action.
“It strikes me that… we are often paralyzed by our own inactivity. While this may not be a perfect statement, it is a statement, and I think it’s one that we can all agree with,” Thomas said. “Virtually everything we do… is subject to improvement and modification if we come up with a better idea, and if we have a [diversity] committee… if the diversity group comes up with better language, we can always modify this, but in the absence of that we have nothing, and this is better, in my opinion, than nothing.”
Should the ad-hoc diversity committee be granted approval for formation, the resolution approved Monday night does grant the potential group a right to modify or alter the city’s official diversity, equity, and inclusion statement.