Race, equity discussions to start small in city

Leaders look to partner with other community agencies

Community discussions about race and equity will likely begin small and possibly sometime in 2021 following an initiative by Sequim residents and city staff.

At the Sequim City Council meeting on Oct. 26, Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said he estimates about 80 hours is needed to host two community listening sessions in 2021 and ongoing Community Engagement Committee meetings (through the end of 2020).

How much more time and any potential city policy decision depends on where conversations lead us and what we find in discussions,” he said. “Our goal is to take it one step at a time.”

City councilors agreed to the time table with councilor Sarah Kincaid abstaining with no reason given, and Keith Larkin abstaining after being appointed to council earlier in the evening.

Efforts for a community discussion began after some residents submitted a petition for a resolution to condemn hate speech, discrimination and racism in late June, which was passed.

Councilors sought more community feedback first before making changes to policies that may apply to anti-racism and discrimination practices.

That led to the formation of a subcommittee — The Equity and Inclusion Community Conversation Design Team — to gauge how to facilitate a community discussion. The subcommittee will send their proposal to the steering committee, and then to city councilors for approval.

Previously, Bush said city staff has reached out to other government organizations about opportunities to collaborate on the discussions.

On Oct. 26, Barbara Hanna, Sequim’s communications and marketing director, said they’re meeting every-other-week and plan to meet on Nov. 5 to discuss working with community partners on outreach.

She said the Community Conversation Team felt they should start with smaller, more focused discussions, which could lead to a larger community meeting.

Bush said with the holidays coming up, they likely won’t have feedback from listening sessions and potential issues to address until early 2021.

“The committee has taken a serious, professional look at this,” said Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell. “I appreciate that.”

For more information on the City of Sequim, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.

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