NAACP's Elk Grove Forum Urges City Workplace Diversity, Greater Participation in Local Government

Sacramento NAACP President Betty Williams |   March 31, 2017 |     In a signal of its growing visibility in the region, for the fir...

Sacramento NAACP President Betty Williams |  
March 31, 2017 |    

In a signal of its growing visibility in the region, for the first time in recent history the Sacramento NAACP held a community forum focusing on Elk Grove.

A longtime leader in civil rights advocacy, the NAACP held the forum on Thursday night and was designed to be an open discussion focusing on concerns participants had with the City of Elk Grove. As the second largest city in the Sacramento region, Elk Grove is nationally recognized as one of the most diverse.

Despite that recognition, one of the main topics of discussion was the lack of diversity in the Elk Grove's city staff and the Elk Grove Police Department. Outlining data on the lack of workplace diversity with City of Elk Grove's and the Cosumnes Community Service District's was NAACP member Kendra Lewis, one of five featured speakers.

"What is interesting is, if you add the Black, Latino, Indian, Asian, Native American population, it is a majority-minority city," she said.

Lewis noted that within the executive ranks of the City of Elk Grove, there were no minorities.

"There are no any minorities, African Americans specifically, in upper management positions," she said. "So you have all these minority communities in the city, and you don't have any representation."

Noting the recent Elk Grove City Council special retreat meeting, aside from the Council Members, Lewis said there were no minority employees on the dais.

"It is not reflective of what this city is," Lewis stated.

Referencing a workforce audit that the City of Elk Grove promised to conduct following a recent City Council meeting, NAACP member and Elk Grove resident Maureen Craft said the study should be conducted by an independent party.

"Elk Grove wants to do their own internal audit," Craft said. "That is silly, how can you audit yourself if you don't have diversity."

Discussing civic involvement, NAACP member and Elk Grove resident Tracie Stafford urged greater participation, particularly in the electoral process to effect change in Elk Grove and beyond.

"We need more folks in office, we need more of us out active in the community, in the clubs, so that our voices can be heard," Stafford said. 

Citing the large turnout at the Elk Grove City Council meeting where the City agreed to the diversity audit, forum facilitator Alaine Murphy-Hasan said having your presence known is crucial. 

"When we come out in groups, we make a difference, we really do," Murphy-Hasan said.

Dovetailing on Stafford's comments, Elk Grove resident Joe Debbs said building relations with people in city hall, the police department, or any government entity is critical. Additionally, he urged people to get involved in any number of the different committees in the city or county. 

"Make it a point to get to know the police chief, " Debbs said. "You would be surprised how much you can get done....if the chief knows you by name."

During the forum, participants also said they intend to hold more forums in Elk Grove to discuss issues of concern to their community. They stated that they hope to have an Elk Grove City Council member, Elk Grove Police Chief Bryan Noblett, and Assemblymember Jim Cooper appear at future forums.

Near the conclusion of the session, NAACP Sacramento President Betty Williams commented on the forum and echoed many of the sentiments conveyed during the meeting. Williams also stressed the importance of community advocacy to advance their cause. 

"Part of my commitment in having these forums is to have some education on advocacy," Williams said. "I'm hoping at the end of the day, that this is what this will become." 

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Eye on Elk Grove said...

So, will we hear once again from Elk Grove City Council members that the reason there aren’t any African American women employed by the Elk Grove Police Department is because “there aren’t any qualified women out there?”

Regarding representation on the Elk Grove City Council, the leaders here are correct and are backed up by International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) of which the city of Elk Grove is a member, writing,

“A council is descriptively representative if the demographic composition of its members reflects the demographic composition of the population it represents.

In this report, we employ a conservative measure of descriptive representation. According to this measure, a council underrepresents a group if the group’s share of the council is equal to or less than its share of the population minus one councilmember’s share of the population. For example, a five-member council in a community that is 80 percent African American underrepresents African Americans if 60 percent or fewer of its members are African American. To be descriptively representative, this council would have to have four African American members.”

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