No one likes uncomfortable conversations but working through that discomfort can have enormous payoffs.
Case in point: a work session of the Keizer City Council Monday, Nov. 9.
After receiving heated backlash from residents of the city over a refusal to condemn white supremacy, members of the council worked through the issues and drafted a statement of values that might live up to Mayor Cathy Clark’s claim a few weeks ago of Keizer “leading the way” through inclusivity in local politics.
The new draft includes a definition of white supremacy, a repudiation of it and a nod to the tribes that once inhabited Keizer.
Members of the council have yet to vote on the statement – they legally can’t vote on issues in work sessions – and some may still dissent, but the new document is a giant step forward from the mostly watered down statement of a few weeks ago.
Each of the councilors,even in lieu of recent comments, should be commended for their work Monday night, but the accolades don’t end there.
For the past few months, a steady cadre of residents have spoken out on issues of inclusivity and what a Keizer resolution should embody. Some of the faces have grown familiar during that time, but new ones have shown up to make their voices heard at every meeting.
Each added a unique perspective and moved the conversation forward in valuable ways. Over the course of weeks and months, they have shown the power inherent in individuals coming together for a more perfect union.
We also don’t want to forget the efforts of those who first brought a resolution proposal to the city two years ago. They started a ball rolling that others were able to pick up and run with.
All of these individuals who stood up and spoke up during the meeting deserve recognition for their courage and work as well.
Lastly, it should not go without noting that the five candidates for city council seats in the election earlier this month were in the room Monday night.
To Kyle Juran and Ross Day: As Keizer’s next city councilors, inclusivity in all forms is a baton you will need to take up, and we hope that the messages of the people you will represent resonated in your chests.
To Mike De Blasi, Dylan Juran and Michele Roland-Schwartz: It took courage to show up at the work session in the wake of election defeat, but we have come to expect that from each of you. Salve the wound of the loss, but don’t let is dissuade you from public service. Stay involved on the city committees you already serve on, join another when you are ready and live to fight another day.
Councilors have grown fond of the phrase “The Keizer Way,” which feels like code for doing things frugally in word and finances. This time around “The American Way” appears to have won the day.
There are lessons there for all of us in the process that is taking place, and we can continue to build on them, but everyone needs to stay in the room.