South Windsor Town Council seeks public input on a new social justice and race equity commission

·2 min read

May 29—SOUTH WINDSOR — The Town Council is seeking public input on the creation of a Social Justice and Racial Equity Commission to further the work of the Black Lives Matter Subcommittee.

"We want to involve community members as well as members of the commission and take a look at what is happening in town, whether it is the hiring of staff and make sure the issues of social justice and racial equity is always on our minds as we move forward in this town," said Mayor Andrew Paterna. "I think the subcommittee opened the door a little bit, but the commission has a lot more work to be done."

The four-member subcommittee, which includes Republican council members Janice Snyder and Minority Leader Lisa Maneeley, along with Democrat council members Karen Lydecker and Erica Evans, was formed on a temporary basis last June when the council declared systematic racism a public health crisis in the community.

One of its tasks was to formulate ideas to continue its mission, Paterna said. As such, they proposed the new commission.

The purpose of the commission, according to the town's ordinance, is to "foster the development of a more diverse community, to address specific issues at the root of racial, ethnic, economic and gender bias and to suggest and implement proactive opportunities to combat those disparities as a public health crisis."

SOCIAL JUSTICE INPUT

WHAT: Town Council to hold a public hearing June 7 seeking input on the creation of a Social Justice Racial Equity Committee.

WHEN: 7 p.m., at Town Hall, 1540 Sullivan Ave.

It's tasked with collaborating with town staff to utilize specific venues focused on the recruitment of diverse candidates for government positions and improving policies and procedures to eliminate racism, bias, and profiling interactions in the hiring process.

The new commission will consist of eight non-elected members including two Republicans, two Democrats, two members who are not affiliated by the Democratic Party but appointed by the Democratic party, and two Republicans who are not affiliated by the Republican Party but appointed by the Republican Party.

Evans, subcommittee chairwoman, said many ideas were not addressed at that level, and hopes the commission would review them, such as creating a police review board.

Other requirements include a minimum of two hours of anti-bias and anti-racist training for every elected official and town employee, with a goal of up to 12 hours.

The subcommittee had originally agreed to 12 hours, but that was reduced when council members raised concerns that it would be challenging, given other responsibilities.

Maneeley said in an email Friday that she wants to be sure the training is meaningful and open-minded.

Evans responded that the training was sorely needed for all staff and elected officials.

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