Promoting Diversity in Local Government

These are remarks I made during the November 11, 2020 Council meeting. I’ve lightly edited them for clarity.

Recently the Council was faced with making a choice on who to appoint to various commission slots and the backup lists for those slots. In at least one instance the argument was made to pick one candidate over another because one of the candidates would increase diversity.

I’m all for diversity. Diversity lets more viewpoints get incorporated into our public decision-making and gives more people a stake in local government – which is extremely important.

But I have to admit I’m a little conflicted about choosing one candidate over another, in the final analysis, based on what he or she looks like. It just doesn’t seem fair, somehow. I’d almost rather put all the qualified candidates into a pool and pick finalists at random, giving everyone deemed qualified the same shot at a position.

Unfortunately that’s not a perfect answer either. For one thing if only members of the majority apply the pool wouldn’t be particularly diverse. I don’t have a simple answer to this conundrum. But there is one thing I can do to help, and I am announcing it tonight.

I will shortly have a lot more time on my hands because I’ll be leaving the Council. I will always be willing to meet with anyone interested in pursuing a public role, elected or appointed. To give them advice on how to secure one. Or to answer their questions about what the role entails.

And I’m particularly interested in meeting with San Carlans who feel themselves to be part of an under-represented group. Either as individuals or in groups.

So, please: if you have questions about stepping up to serve the community, or would like someone to address a group you belong to about public service give me a call at 650-868-3367. Or drop me a line at mark@arcabama.com.

I’m here to help. And I want to support people interested in serving their community.

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