In the summer of 2020, with the nation reeling after the murders of George Floyd and the protests that followed, Mayor formed a task force to study diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues citywide. After more than a year of investigation and discussion, at the September 24, 2021, meeting of the Committee of the Whole, the presented their findings and recommendations. They identified five key focus areas: City Vision, Department, City Spending, Recruiting and Hiring, and Training. (Read the full presentation and meeting minutes here.)

At the October 25 Committee of the Whole, Rusty Herzog set forth the City’s response to the Task Force report, pledging immediate action on many of their recommendations. 

These include but are not limited to modifying the City’s Vision statement; expanding recruitment efforts for the Department and City employees; providing DEI training to all City employees and Council members; regularly evaluating the City’s purchasing agreements to allow additional vendors an opportunity to earn the City’s business; and providing yearly reports of policies, goals, and progress regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Herzog also advised that the Council formally receive the Task Force report at the November 15 meeting. This will be one of the final actions of the current City Council before the new members are sworn in in December. 

City departments, especially the Manager and the City Solicitor, spent the month between Committee of the Whole meetings evaluating the report and formulating a course of action. “The recommendations fell into one of four categories,” said Herzog. “One, things we think are great and will adopt right away. Two, things we think are great that will take some time. Three, things we need to clarify that we are already doing. And four, things we cannot legally do.”

The last category includes action items that run counter to established procedures, such as hiring and purchasing decisions. Herzog promises, though, that the City will strive to reach a more diverse pool of candidates for these important positions.

City employees and Council alike praised the efforts of the for their diligence and cooperation on such a challenging task.

“It’s a very diverse group, about as eclectic as you can get,” said Member Jeff LeRoy. “They were men, women, people of color, LGBTQ, people from the left and right of the political spectrum.”

Herzog agreed. “Citizens came together, put in some long hours and did some excellent work.” But, he adds, “We still have work we can do as a community. We can always do better.”