National League of Cities
Fall Leadership Conference in San Diego
I attended the National League of Cities Fall Leadership Conference in San Diego during the first week in October. This conference focused on Racial Equity and what social, institutional or structural barriers we as a government might have in place whether intentionally or unintentionally that are causing specific groups of people issues in getting services or creating unmet needs.
I had previously taken a course on this topic and found it interesting enough to want to learn more. In addition, we were asked to look at how our city seeks to engage the residents and how we as leaders could expand communication between the city and residents and create more of a dialogue as opposed to the mostly one-way stream of information most cities have.
One of the scenarios we looked at when discussing racial equity involved a city hosting a community meeting about an affordable housing unit being built in an existing community of predominantly white middle class people. One of the participants of the meeting was talking about “those people” moving in and housing prices in the area dropping and crime increasing.
In this example, the city countered with a policy where people who wanted to move into the housing would be subject to a criminal background check. While the majority at my table didn’t see this as a problem, I pointed to this check being a barrier for people of color because as most studies will show people of color are more likely to be convicted of a crime for a variety of issues not having to do with innocence or guilt. Additionally, not every community requires a criminal background check; why this one? This is just one example of the challenges we looked at.
I am working with our City staff to see about implementing some of the suggestions on communication between the City and residents I heard from other city officials from around the country, and will keep you informed of our progress.
As part of my expanded communication in District 3, I will be starting to walk the District again to find out from residents what questions, concerns and ideas they might have.
I am currently looking for volunteers to walk with me starting in November. Please let me know if you have a spare Saturday morning. While this is one of the more old-fashioned ways of communicating, I find it effective.