Keizer’s future for community diversity engagement

The Keizer City Council and Community Diversity Engagement Committee (CDEC) came together in the council chambers on Monday, March 11 to discuss the current direction and directives of the committee for 2024. 

The council first described the accomplishments of the CDEC noting things such as helping prepare for Keizer’s 40th birthday party, inputting opinions about the Strategic Plan, collaborating with the neighborhood associations via Tammy Kunz, preparing and helping facilitate the Latino Resource Fair hosted last Veterans day at City Hall and a book club the committee hosted to promote more understanding of what their committee entails. 

Longest serving youth CDEC member Nevaeh Music described how she was proudest of the CDEC’s efforts for the city’s birthday as well as the committee’s interaction with the neighborhood associations. 

Another member, Tammy Kunz, stated how some neighborhood associations desired more engagement and action within the community from the committee as well as how to create a more collaborative process with what the CDEC does. 

Councilor Laura Reid commented that the accomplishments show steps in the right direction and it’s important to celebrate the successes and build on them. 

The group discussed the current scope of the CDEC and what was within and outside of it. 

Councilor Robert Husseman brought up an anecdote about this scope through describing a Florida law affecting people of color and many others through closing down diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) centers and programs in schools and colleges. 

In terms of Keizer, Husseman noted that it is important to consider the struggles of others in the country and to observe the idea that the city’s institutions remain open, diverse and inclusive to all. 

Councilor Kyle Juran spoke about how he was encouraged by progress of the committee as well as how it would be important to not so much narrow the committee’s goals but to focus them better. 

Former city councilor Roland Herrera, the creator of the CDEC, spoke about efforts by citizens here in Keizer to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion services (DEI). 

He spoke to how important it is to not let this happen in this community and how Reid was correct in saying that diversity engagement is a never ending fight. 

He talked about two often confused words, equity and equality, and provided a metaphor from his time as a coach saying how equality is like buying your whole team sneakers whereas equity is making sure you buy them the right size sneakers. 

DEI education helps provide more engagement and collaboration as well as aiding in better employee retention in the workplace, according to Herrera. 

The council next discussed whether or not the CDEC has been heading in the right direction in terms of its goals and purpose. 

Tammy Kunz described how she would like to see more engagement from other committees at CDEC meetings. 

Councilor Shaney Starr talked about the importance of ensuring things such as plans or documents are created based on a standardized approach by using an equity lens developed by the council and CDEC. 

The approach would utilize a sort of grading rubric which would help standardize how city staff both provide feedback as well as create new documents ensuring they adhere to DEI principles. 

Mayor Cathy Clark proposed using examples of how the CDEC assessed the traffic management plan, the strategic draft plan and others as a guide to creating a larger rubric for which to ensure more inclusive ideals are pursued in future council endeavors. 

Another question revolved around how to make the neighborhood associations better with conversation covering notions such as having the associations and CDEC collaborate to help improve associations in parts of the city that do not have as much support as others. 

Kohler suggested bringing association leaders, such as Ken Gierloff, to the podium to address specifically what would help them be more successful. 

Geirloff described that the South East Keizer Neighborhood Association was having trouble both finding a direction as well as gathering more interested citizens. 

Other association leaders discussed how more funding and equipment, such as a webcam, given by the city has been helpful in performing more outreach. 

CDEC member Music noted how Instagram and Instagram live are primary methods the council and associations could use to further increase the amount of outreach they are able to do. 

Clark asked for members to continue to look at the six components of determining the direction of the city until a future meeting to better gather what the exact focus of the committee should be this coming year. 

City Manager Adam Brown noted one low tech method to ensure the city maintains inclusivity has been ensuring meetings are put out in both English and Spanish by using Google Translate in lieu of a more expensive translator. 

Another important discussion dealt with how members of the CDEC are appointed to their positions. 

Currently, the process is that members are nominated by a sitting member of the city council though the concept held in contention was whether or not that process should be updated to allow the Volunteer Coordinating Committee to make recommendations, similar to how most other volunteer positions in the city are handled. 

Starr noted that the CDEC should have more conversations about whether or not they should be appointed by council vs the Volunteer Coordinating Committee with Clark noting that asking whether or not it should happen is a good place to start the process. 

Lore Christopher mentioned an April 5th event at 6 p.m. held at the Keizer Cultural Center where Dr. Russell Lo would be coming to speak on his family history which is closely intertwined with the history of the city of Keizer. 

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-105

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