STOW – City leaders are determined to identify and fight racism in the city.
Council member Christina Shaw introduced a resolution with changes by Council President Sindi Harrison to promote racial equality in the city of Stow. Council members unanimously approved it.
The resolution states that "there is clear data that racism negatively impacts the lives of people of color in Ohio."
The city of Stow, the mayor, city council, and all members of the city administration are committed to actively working to promote racial equality through city operations.
"We are committed to ensuring that every person who lives, works, and visits the city of Stow regardless of race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or color are treated with respect and dignity; and … are committed to engaging in continuing communication and dialog with the public to address issues of racism and intolerance and their impact on our community."
The resolution has seven sections:
SECTION 1. The mayor and Stow City Council remain dedicated along with the citizens of Stow against racism and reaffirm the city’s pledge to fight for racial justice and civil rights for all; and
SECTION 2. That council encourages the mayor and city leadership to participate in the current meetings and discussions regarding diversity organized by the Stow-Munroe Falls School District and any other committees that may come out of such meetings and discussions; and
SECTION 3. That council is committed to reviewing all ordinances and resolutions that come before city council with a racially equitable lens; and
SECTION 4. That council, along with the administration, are committed to conducting all human resource, vendor selection, and grant management activities in a racially equitable fashion, including reviewing all internal policies and practices such as hiring, promotion, leadership appointments, and funding; and
SECTION 5. The city of Stow will provide training to all elected officials and city employees on workplace biases and how to mitigate them; and
SECTION 6. That this council finds and determines that all formal actions of this council concerning and relating to the passage of this ordinance were taken in an open meeting of this council and that all deliberations of this council and of any committees or subcommittees that resulted in those formal actions were in meetings open to the public in compliance with the law.
SECTION 7. That this resolution is being passed as an emergency measure pursuant to Stow Charter Sections 4.13 and 4.14 because the immediate passage of the resolution is necessary to preserve the public health and safety of minority residents, employees, patrons and visitors within the city of Stow, and this resolution shall be in full force and effect upon its adoption by council and approval by the mayor, otherwise at the earliest period allowed by law.
Shaw said the city resolution declares that racism is a public health crisis.
"I have lived here all my life and for anyone who doesn’t think racism is in the city, they need to wake up," she said. "Black lives matter."
Harrison said she proposed an amended version of Shaw’s resolution because a declaration of a public health crisis is outside the scope of council and she wanted anything passed to be something council could act on it. It keeps Shaw’s items but highlights council’s commitment to it.
"We have to act in our authority to make the changes in our control," Harrison said. "Changes in our community are not just going to happen with legislation. It’s going to take cooperation. We need legislation to have actionable action on the issues."
A larger group is meeting on the issue of racism, which includes the schools and other community organizations.
Council member Cyle Feldman said the schools and city staff had a "listening session" with 30 people on June 5 to open up communication and understanding of different points of view.
He said the schools have taken action and hoped council would build on the momentum and move the legislation forward.
"If we don’t believe there is racism, we will not go forward," Mayor John Pribonic said. "We need community dialogue and we need to make sure this goes ahead into perpetuity. We have to hold our city and ourselves to a higher standard. I know we can move forward with this endeavor."
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org