The Waverly City Council will be considering after the New Year the possible elevation of a task force encouraging diversity in town to a commission.
The members of the Human Equity and Diversity Task Force have submitted a request for the new status, which was discussed during the Nov. 2 council meeting.
The task force, which has nearly a dozen members appointed by Mayor Adam Hoffman, has been meeting frequently since July 28, with the first three times weekly then biweekly after that until October. It will next meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday via Zoom.
In the statement from the task force to city officials, written by secretary Amy Kangas, the members recommended the city elevate its status to a commission.
The members believe it would “allow for strategic planning and the formation of partnerships to meet the ultimate goal of building bridges to advance opportunities for all people in Waverly and the surrounding communities.”
The members voted to make the request on Sept. 29, one night after Kangas and Chairman Shane Blackledge made a presentation during a council study session about their work to that point, according to City Administrator James Bronner.
“I recommended to them that they make a formal statement requesting that to the council,” Bronner said. “We can have a discussion on that, and if there’s a consensus to move forward, we would place on the next agenda or one of the near agenda — may not be until December because of all of that it takes to become a commission — that very process and get that started.”
Ward 5 Councilman Tim Kangas, who is also Amy Kangas’ husband, advised that the council clearly define what the commission would be doing.
“I know there are human equity commissions or civil rights commissions in other cities and other places,” Tim Kangas said. “I’m not sure that’s necessarily the intent that we want or need here for what we want this commission to do, but I also want to make sure we’re up front on what it is that they’re doing and what kind of the focus should be for that.”
At-Large Councilwoman Ann Rathe had attended a few of the task force’s meetings and found them to be “diligent and hardworking” while trying to formulate concrete goals.
“This would be a worthy topic to have a commission on,” Rathe said, “but I think I would like to see some formal education for the commission about the issue of inclusion and diversity, so that they know some examples of other commissions and have definition of terms … and have a concrete discussion of what their goals would be.”
Ward 4 Councilwoman Heather Beaufore said that task force members would appreciate the direction on goal setting from council and the administration. She added the members of the task force explored what other commissions from cities of similar size to Waverly have done in this area.
“They did talk about how this did take significant time for these commissions — up to a year to even really define and lots of revisions of goals to get things down to be more specific,” Beaufore said.
“If we would develop this commission, I would highly suggest the City Council, city give that time and allot that time to the commission. Human Equity and Diversity deserves that time, deserves that research and that education. It takes a lot of consideration, it’s a really delicate process-thing to go through, I think.”
Bronner said the staff will put forward an ordinance to be taken up by council starting on Jan. 4, 2021.
“We’ll kind of walk through (during the next task force meeting) some of the discussion that council had,” Bronner said, “and they’ll see how we’ll move forward.”