Item No. 1 - Wheat Ridge Race and Equity Task Force

This study session agenda item is at the request of Councilmembers Nosler-Beck and Dozeman to discuss and consider actions items to address racism and hate in Wheat Ridge and the creation of a race and equity taskforce.
This is a recording of the September 21, 2020 City Council Study Session.

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Staff Memo ( 8.68 MB )

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Below is from the Wheat Ridge for Equity group. Wheat Ridge for Equity September 21, 2020 MEMO: Wheat Ridge for Equity action items moving forward At the June 22 meeting of Wheat Ridge City Council, Wheat Ridge for Equity members asked for the following three action items: 1. Frequent and ongoing equity and bias training for city staff and elected officials in order to understand and recognize patterns of thinking that perpetuate discrimination and mitigate personal biases. 2. Creation of an Equity Task Force by the City Council to include people marginalized by oppression, such as people who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, LGTBQ, immigrants, differently abled, people of marginalized faiths, young people, and elders in our community, as well as a few lesser marginalized residents. Membership of this Task Force must represent diverse and multiple perspectives so as not to deny or minimize our neighbors’ lived experiences. 3. The Equity Task Force will carry out a thorough review of City policies, services, and ordinances, as well as inequities in community systems and departments and report recommendations, including ways in which success will be measured toward becoming a more inclusive and responsive community. Tonight, we hope that our city council members move forward and agree to our action items, most importantly the formation of an Equity Task Force. This is a step forward in ensuring equity in our community. As part of our action items, please understand: - While we want to see every thoughtful effort that the task force membership is representative of each marginalized population in Wheat Ridge, we will not view this effort as a failure if the task force starts with many and not all representatives of our community’s marginalized representatives. - We recognize that encouraging potential members to apply will take time and relies on continued relationship building. - The process of application and selection need to work well to ensure our marginalized community members are trusting of this initiative and will step forward to apply. - Until a task force has started and the work begun, it is hard to say what the lifespan of the task force ought to be. The discovery of the task force’s work and other research is required to make an informed decision. - Wheat Ridge for Equity’s core leadership and greater member wants to support our city council and city staff in this effort. This is uncomfortable, challenging work. We are invested in us succeeding together. We also have amongst us those who have the lived experience of racism and bigotry, as well as others who have years of equity training and learning to augment the marginalization we have witnessed. Please view us as a resource. Sincerely, Morgan Richards Alexander Goldsmith Elise St. Peter Shannon Kishel Jeff Richards Diana Lopez
September 21, 2020, 11:59 AM
Morgan Richards
As a 20 year resident of Wheat Ridge and involved with this City in petitions, running for office and attending all city meetings that I can, I am a bit puzzled by the call for action as presented by the others who have commented on WR Speaks. I have not heard of one issue/complaint throughout the public domain towards the city or staff or council members. I am informed from reading some of the postings that issues do exist and maybe have not been brought to the public's attention. With all the comments now on WR Speaks it seems those citizens would be the ones volunteering for the task force they are asking to be established. I would rather see time and effort spent by those in authority teaching those who are growing up and learning of the world ways that parents and schools teach subjects such as respect for all, acceptance of all, kindness to all and general civility to and from all. In the early 80s I remember when children were able to accuse teachers and parents of disciplinary 'abuses' and lives were changed as those accused were arrested and had charges filed. It seemed then that the bending to the will of the child, correct in their accusations or not, was the beginning of a downward path in our society that showed a lack of respect and compliance with authority that was and is needed for all of us to survive life in general. Without respect for all, we find ourselves in situations that lack the good graces of a good society. I would say that teachers and parents and others who have the ability to teach and show the young population how to respect others, tolerate others, accept others and do unto others as you would have done unto you is the way forward our society needs. No more labeling and name calling and bullying and hatred. Let us become aware of how to accomplish that through cotillions. I quote from a webpage of Jon D. Williams Cotillions® EST. 1949: "In a world where kindness, courtesy and respect are often overlooked, there is a way recognized as educating young people in the art of social skills. In today's competitive society, it is a fact that those with well-developed social skills have tangible advantages in every aspect of their lives. In truth, students without this knowledge may lack the confidence to succeed when it comes to the real world" Onward and Upward. Respectfully, Vivian Vos
September 21, 2020, 11:58 AM
VIVIAN VOS
Dear City Council Members, I am writing this letter to urge you to move forward with the action items proposed by Wheat Ridge for Equity at the City Council meeting on June 22, 2020. This is the next logical step in the Council’s promise to make Wheat Ridge a community where all its residents can feel safe. Sincerely, Nikki Larsen
September 21, 2020, 11:56 AM
Nikki Larsen
Dear Mayor Starker and Council Members, I am a resident of Wheat Ridge District 1. Thank you for the resolution condemning racism and hate. I am encouraging you to take action by conducting ongoing equity and bias training for city staff and elected officials and creating an Equity Task Force, which reflects the diversity of our city, to conduct a review of city policies, services and ordinances to root out inequities. I believe this is vital to the well being of our society and our city. Joyce Gallo 09/20/2020 10:43 am
September 21, 2020, 11:50 AM
Joyce Gallo
As a long-term Wheat Ridge resident of District 1, I strongly recommend that you support and move forward with the three action items put forth by the members of Wheat Ridge for Equity. Listen, change, grow...for everyone's sake.
September 21, 2020, 11:37 AM
Shannon Sturtevant
Dear Mayor and Council Members, I support the three action items proposed by the Wheat Ridge Race and Equity Force. Let's be leaders among Colorado cities in moving forward to end racial inequality for all minorities but especially towards African Americans in our city. Four hundred years of oppression and injustice is way too many. Thank you, Mariann Storck
September 21, 2020, 11:35 AM
Mariann Storck
Dear Mayer Starker and City Council, I applaud your efforts to condemn racism and hate in Wheat Ridge, and I see the work you've already started in providing equity training for police and council members. It gives me hope that these issues are of true concern, and you are hearing the emphatic requests of residents who are urging you to continue forward in this work. Initiating the creation of an equity task force is the next logical step toward examining the systematic inequities that must be identified and changed in community systems and departments. Of great importance is that this task force represent our community and recruitment will likely be a grassroots effort. It will involve building trust with marginalized communities, and requesting they step forward to build a more inclusive and safe community for us all. Thank you for engaging this critical work. I'm proud to be a resident of Wheat Ridge. -Shannon Kishel
September 21, 2020, 11:33 AM
Shannon Kishel
Good day, Mayor Starker and Wheat Ridge City Council, My mane is Jenny Snell, and my wife and I reside at 7020 W 35th avenue in Wheat Ridge. I am reaching out in support of the three items put forth by Wheat Ridge for Equity: Equity Training for City staff and elected officials, creating an Equity Task Force, and then utilizing that Task Force to review all city policies and ordinances to ensure fair treatment of ALL Wheat Ridge citizens. Our city has an opportunity here to set the bar and demonstrate what true equity and inclusion looks like within a community. Wheat Ridge as a whole can benefit from this, from our most marginalized community members to our most privileged. We must be known as a community that embraces and supports all of its residents. Moving ahead with these 3 items is a great start towards that. As a member of the LGBTQ community, it is important to me that I and my family feel accepted, safe, and supported in our community. It is also of utmost importance that all of our BIPOC members feel safe and supported in our community that is overwhelmingly white. We have much to love about Wheat Ridge, and we also have much to change to be the loving, supportive, action-oriented community that I know we can be. Thank you for doing the right thing for all of your community members. -Jenny Snell
September 21, 2020, 11:13 AM
Jenny Snell
Dear Mayor and City Council Members, I applaud you for passing the resolution condemning racism and hate. It is one thing for city council to pass such a resolution, but it is another that there be some actual work done. We must create an environment where everyone has a voice. I fully support the formation of a Task Force to address racism issues and policies in Wheat Ridge. Its members should be from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds representing marginalized citizens of Wheat Ridge. The important work starts with consistent equity training and the creation of this task force. Now is time to act on making Wheat Ridge a safer and more inclusive community for ALL of our citizens. Thank you for your consideration and willingness to move forward.
September 21, 2020, 10:28 AM
Milly Nadler
Please move forward with the diversity task force, as it is much needed in Wheat Ridge. As our town grows and expands, understanding of BIOPC communities is critical ensuring that we thrive.
September 21, 2020, 10:01 AM
sara nepomuceno
Dear Mayor & Council Members, I am a resident of Wheat Ridge District 2 and want to express my fervent support for the action items presented to you today. These 3 steps are essential in advocating for and protecting all of Wheat Ridge's citizens. Without them, I'm concerned that we will continue to promote patterns and habits that marginalize members of our community. We must also acknowledge that these items are just the beginning of the work required to fight inequity. This work requires ongoing involvement and conversation, and if these items are not adopted and/or taken seriously, we are failing to provide solid footing for equity. We must be intentional in providing training, education, and platforms for addressing inequity, bias, and racism. As this City Council has done previously, please take the stand against inequity seriously.
September 21, 2020, 9:49 AM
Sarah Gould
Dear Mayor Starker and members of the Council, Thank you for considering the action items put forth by Wheat Ridge for Equity. As your constituent, I encourage and request that you move forward with creating a Task Force to address racism in our city, in both the systems and practices. As a white woman and third generation property owner in Wheat Ridge, I have benefited from many privileges that are often not afforded to people of color in our city. It may not appear to those of us in positions of privilege or power that there are issues to address, but it is our responsibility to dig deep and listen to the community. To continuously address inequality in our systems I believe that the steps put forth by Wheat Ridge for Equity are steps in the right direction. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Miranda Cutting
September 21, 2020, 9:32 AM
Miranda Jo Cutting
Dear Mayor Starker and Council Members, I am a resident of Wheat Ridge District 2 and I want to thank you for the resolution condemning racism and hate. I am encouraged that most of you want to take action by conducting ongoing equity and bias training for city staff and elected officials and creating an Equity Task Force. The equity and bias training should be continuous for there is no such thing as too much training especially when it comes to something as important as equity and bias for government staff and elected officials. Training bi-annually would be preferred. It is vital that the Equity Task Force is well thought through, starting with the application process. Many of those that we want on this task force won't come forward, but we will need to recognize those communities who aren't represented and reach out to them. The selection process also needs to include groups like Wheat Ridge for Equity to ensure that this task force truly represents all the minorities in our community. Once the group is selected it should be up to the group to replace members in the task force when such a time comes. It should not be up to the Mayor and City Council. When reflecting on the diversity of our city, we need to recognize our own shortcomings as an inclusive community and strive for better unity. I hope you also recognize the need to give the Equity Task Force teeth to conduct a review of city policies, services and ordinances to root out inequities. If power isn't given to the task force to be able to make real change, then this will be nothing more than a PR stunt by politicians instead of a solution created by Wheat Ridge citizens to make our city the best it can be. This is an incredible chance for you to make a true difference in given more citizens their voice. If you can create a well thought out process for both the equity and bias training and the Equity Task Force, and you show you care about this and recognize this is an issue that needs to be addressed, then you have my vote the next time you are up for re-election no matter the affiliation. Please take this seriously and understand that you are making a difference for every citizen in our city.
September 21, 2020, 9:01 AM
Alexander Goldsmith
Dear Mayor and Council, My name is Michael Ksenyak and I am a resident of Wheat Ridge. The city passed the resolution against racism and hate in our city. That is a great first step! To continue the work of making Wheat Ridge a more inclusive and equitable city, I strongly urge you to create the task force and open it for a city wide application process. This is the best way to ensure greater diversity from the city is represented and had an opportunity to participate. This work is important and intentional and a building process. It must be done well and with urgency, but not rushed, all at the same time. As a city we need this community led task force to partner with the city and council. Thank you
September 21, 2020, 8:35 AM
Mike Ksenyak
Dear Mayor and City council, I am a long-time resident of Wheat Ridge, and I live in Wheat Ridge. So proud of you for passing the resolution condemning hate and racism. And now let's put some action to those words and begin by creating an diverse equity task force that would review city policies and help make recommendations for a more inclusive community. We want to live in a city that we can all be proud of, and implementing the 3 action items Wheat Ridge for Equity is asking for is a way to move forward. Thank you.
September 21, 2020, 8:31 AM
Diana Lopez
Mayor Starker and Council Members, As a long time resident of Wheat Ridge I would urge you to adopt the three items brought forward by Wheat Ridge For Equity. It is incumbent for all citizens to be aware of inequity in our country and community and to work toward awareness and remediation. I believe the three aspects of ongoing equity and bias training for city staff and elected officials, the creation of an Equity Task Force which reflects the diversity of our city, and for that Task Force to conduct a review of city policies, services and ordinances to identify inequities and put forth suggested remedies. Thank you for your consideration of these historical and timely issues. Diane Sandman September 21, 2020
September 21, 2020, 8:09 AM
Diane Sandman
Mayor Starker and Members of the City Counsel, As a 20 year resident in District 1, I am asking you to support the 3 action items in front of you today by moving them from a Study Session to the next stage. We are obligated on the grounds of basic human rights to rid Wheat Ridge of systemic racism. We are obligated on those same grounds to build a city that fosters and supports equity. Denying that there is any problem in our city is naive. Our family and freinds have experienced racism inside city limits. We know this is not unique to us. No action or partial support in this case could end in the same kind of tragedy that took Elijah McClain's life. Thank you for your time and consideration in these matters. Regards, Jeff Richards
September 20, 2020, 9:47 PM
Jeff Richards
Dear Mayor and City Council members, Please proceed with these action items because being a teenager of color, I have experienced racism in Wheat Ridge. I believe these action items will help make Wheat Ridge safer.
September 20, 2020, 8:24 PM
Jassir Rankin-Richards
Dear City Council Members, Thank you for full consideration of an inclusive equity task force. I know these are complicated times, and Wheat Ridge is a complicated place. I know there aren't very many people of color in Wheat Ridge, so it's tempting to shrug and think that the issues around equity don't need to be addressed here. But, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” While many Wheat Ridge citizens may not be directly affected by inequity, we are better as a community when we hear from a diversity of voices, backgrounds, and experiences. Data shows that companies and communities who have diverse representation on their boards and committees do better economically, create more innovation, and inspire more investment. These are all things that will make Wheat Ridge an even better place to live.
September 20, 2020, 2:54 PM
Rhiannon Gallagher
When you consider the complete lack of diversity on the council, or on staff, I think it is clear that we need a task force to create diversity in the city’s leadership. Please consider moving forward with this in order to form a government that actually reflects our cities diversity. We are called White Ridge for a reason and it’s not a compliment.
September 20, 2020, 11:30 AM
Jessica Fasy
Dear Mayor Starker and Council Members, I am a resident of Wheat Ridge District 1. Thank you for the resolution condemning racism and hate. I am encouraging you to take action by conducting ongoing equity and bias training for city staff and elected officials and creating an Equity Task Force, which reflects the diversity of our city, to conduct a review of city policies, services and ordinances to root out inequities. Thank you for listening. Eric Wilson
September 20, 2020, 10:43 AM
Eric Wilson
Dear Mayor Starker and City Council Members, I am a Wheat Ridge resident at 4 Hillside Drive in Paramount Heights. I am encouraging you to move forward with three items put forth by Wheat Ridge for Equity. i encourage you to conduct ongoing equity and bias training for city staff and elected officials, create an Equity Task Force which reflects the diversity of our city, and for that Task Force to conduct a review of city policies, services and ordinances to root out inequities. Thanks for representing me in these timely and important issues. Margaret Robinson
September 19, 2020, 2:33 PM
Margaret Robinson
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