Voters overwhelmingly approved changes to the Keizer city charter in Tueday’s election. The Charter Review Task Force, led by City Councilor Elizabeth Smith, worked for more than year, combing over every line of the original document, first approved by voters in 1983, to bring it up to date.
The biggest change was the deletion of Section 44, which prohibited the city from extending minority status to individuals based on sexual orientation and expending funds that “promote homosexuality or express approval of homosexual behavior.”
The section became moot when the Oregon Legislature rendered the changes unenforceable, but it remained a blemish on the city. Other cities that adopted similar changes found themselves losing opportunities to host events, like conventions, as a result of having the language on the books.
The approval by voters of the new city charter is a goodthing and the win with 67% of the vote demonstrates that Keizer is ready for the next step.
At the city council meeting on Monday, Nov. 2, a number of residents spoke passionately about values in Keizer, specifically demanding the city and its leaders make a declarative statement denouncing white supremacy.
The council will hold a work session next Monday to discuss a “statement of values” regarding the city’s stance on diversity, equity and incusion. It is important the disucssion comes right on the heels of the city charter revision approval.
The proposed Keizer Statement of Values states “all people shall be treated with dignity and respect.” The statement lists the federal definition of protected classes of people as well as the addition of Oregon protect classes. The protected classes include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, disability, source of income, marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity.
If approved, the values statement commits the City of Keizer to take action to be a city that “welcomes every person.” The city would be committed to ensure all members of the community are free from acts that are rooted in racism, discrimination, intolerance, bigotry and hostility.
The sooner the Keizer Statement of Values is finalized and approved, the sooner the city can move forward. Words are most important when backed up with actions. It is disheartening to hear when anyone has a view of Keizer being unwelcoming. Keizer wants to be a place where people want to live and businesses want to locate.