KENOSHA COUNTY ⏤ Tuesday night, the Kenosha County Executive Committee gave its approval to a resolution creating the county’s Racial Equity Commission.
The Racial Equity Work Group, a work group of county officials and citizens, created the resolution after 90 days of weekly meetings.
While there was some discussion, the resolution moved on from the committee with few amendments.
The workgroup’s chair, Supervisor Jerry Gulley, also had no objections to the amendments approved Tuesday night.
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The resolution as presented
As presented Tuesday evening, the resolution creates a clear mission for the county’s commission.
“The Racial Equity Commission’s mission is to realize greater racial equity and dismantle racism in Kenosha County through research, education, and on-going review of current policies and procedures so as to implement transformative ideas born of research, collaboration, and community engagement,” it reads.
The resolution also establishes the guidelines for the composition of the commission and who will appoint members.
As a result, the commission will consist of nine commissioners, two of which will be County Board supervisors. The County Board chairman, currently John O’Day, will also appoint these members.
The Kenosha County Executive, currently Jim Kreuser, will appoint the other seven, with the approval of the County Board.
Goals of Racial Equity Commission
The goals established for the commission in the resolution include:
The makeup of the Racial Equity Commission, diversity
The part of the resolution causing the most discussion Tuesday night pertained to the diverse makeup of the commission.
As presented initially, the resolution states the following:
The makeup of the commission should, at a minimum, reflect the diverse racial and ethnic makeup of Kenosha County as determined by the most recent census information with at all times, five (5) of the seven (7) non-County Board commissioners representing racial minorities in Kenosha County. This should not be construed to in any way limit the ability of the County Executive and County Board Chair in appointing, nor the County Board in approving appointments, but to encourage new ways to increase and maximize the participation of voices which have been traditionally and historically un- or underrepresented. In making and approving appointments the goal of providing opportunities to such voices should be a prioritized consideration. (“A Resolution Creating the Racial Equity Commission of Kenosha County”, page 2, paragraph 6)
Sup. Terry Rose and also Sup. Andy Berg questioned the language of the paragraph.
Rose language amendment
For Rose, his questioning came from a semantic standpoint where he felt the language was more limiting than intended.
In his comments, he asked the committee to change the language to state in the third line, “seven non-County Board commissioners representing racial and ethnic (emphasis ours) minorities.”
Berg clarification on census data
Berg wanted clarification on whether the county was using the census information or the resolution’s “5 of the 7” members as the parameters for diversity.
“Are we saying either one?” he asked.
Corporation Counsel Joseph Cardamone also clarified that lack of new census data would not disqualify someone from a minority group from joining.
He also stressed that the census percentages serve as the “minimum” for how diverse the commission should be.
Other amendments also made Tuesday evening include:
- Moving the appointment date of the two supervisor seats from January to June.
- Changing the language of the resolution to clarify that the Kenosha County Executive Committee is the body it reports to and that oversees it.
As a result, in its current state, several supervisors praised its contents.
“It’s much broader now,” Rose said.
“I think this (discussion) has greatly improved it, and I appreciate it,” Gulley said. “I am confident that nothing that was edited will be a problem for anybody on the work group.”
The Kenosha County Executive Committee unanimously passed the amended resolution Tuesday.
It will next go before the full County Board for final approval.
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