Race Relations and Equality in Edwardsville
"At first glance, the average passerby would think that everything was wonderful in the community of Edwardsville. In fact, some half-jokingly have said it looks like a modern day Mayberry. Thriving businesses, clean streets, bustling downtown, busy parks, excellent schools, and dedicated public safety professionals, are not part of a pretty picture, they do really exist here. Those images were normal, are normal, but the images that followed the murder of George Floyd on our downtown streets are real too. They are part of the soul of not only our town, but also part of this wonderful but flawed country we call the United States of America. Upon seeing the hundreds of peaceful protestors march in our City, I, as Mayor and a lifelong resident, felt compelled to take action. We need to interview these passionate people. We need to listen to their concerns. We need to learn what we are doing right and what we could do better. That is where the idea for our Race Relations and Equality Roundtables began."
Mayor Hal Patton
INFORMATION & RECOMMENDATIONS
The Race Relations and Equality in Edwardsville Information and Recommendations document contains not only a Directive for Improving Race Relations and Equality in Edwardsville and a summary from each Race Relations and Equality Committee member but also information on the Human Relations Commission and the feedback from the Race Relations and Equality in Edwardsville Survey in its entirety. The following are the 10 Directives from the committee, to see the entire document please see the bottom of this page for supporting documents.
The directive for Improving Race Relations and Equality in Edwardsville
- The City of Edwardsville should refine and repeat the Race Relations and Equality Survey every two years. This was the first citywide effort to engage the public on the topic of race relations and as a result, there was input that spanned decades of concerns. By hosting a public forum and updating the questionnaire every two years, progress can be measured. This summary can be used as a baseline.
- The City of Edwardsville should continue to hire more employees from diverse backgrounds and to hire individuals who support the City’s strength in diversity goals. We found, and a majority of our residents shared the concern, that the current city staffing lacked diversity and was not reflective of the community as a whole. Only 4.5% of the current employees identify as being from a minority group, while blacks alone make up more than ten percent of our residents. Some positive changes have already occurred within the hiring processes, directed by the Human Resources Department, resulting in the hiring of two African-American candidates in the Public Works Department and a Native American hiring. The City Council approval of the three-day Diversity Workshop for all elected, appointed, and managing positions. This is highly commended by our group. Follow-up sessions to monitor the progress from these sessions is requested. Union leadership, from the six separate unions in the City, should do more to recruit minorities for job shadowing and apprenticeships.
- The City should re-activate the Human’s Relations Commission and modify commission membership and duties to create a truly diverse commission. We recommend membership be expanded to a minimum of ten members and include the City’s Human Resource Director, an employer, an administrator or educator from District 7, a member of the clergy, a person from the LGBTQ+ community, a person with disabilities awareness, a current SIUE student leader, a person from NAACP leadership, a social service organization, an alderman, and a law enforcement representative. Like most city commissions, the group should meet monthly and submit a quarterly report to an aldermanic committee. To volunteer for the Human Relation commission please contact your alder-person. Info Here Elected Officials
- The Police Department should host an annual community forum to include an opportunity for citizen input, provide a summary of the use of force statistics, and describe specific training or programs to address and promote positive community relations.
- The Mayor should appoint individuals to serve on a Crisis Communication Team. This team should create a plan of action for communicating with the public and media for a wide variety of events.
- The City should create a quarterly newsletter to inform the public about the ongoing projects and progress being made in the City.
- The Edwardsville-SIUE Community Destination Group should be tasked with partnering with SIUE organizations that are working to improve diversity and race relations on the campus. An annual event should be initiated by this committee to highlight the work of these organizations.
- The city council should ask the City Planner and the City Plan Commission to review rules and fees associated with housing development that impact the total cost of construction. Access to affordable housing has been cited as a major deterrent to diversity within the community.
- The City’s Economic Development Director should work with local businesses to promote hiring and encourage participation with minority members. A registry of local minority-owned businesses should be kept and any concerns regarding access or services for minorities should be directed to the Human Relations Commission.
- Lastly, this must be a community-wide effort. We are blessed to have a wonderful community to live, learn, work, and play. We have accomplished this by a COLLECTIVE EFFORT of all of our residents, city employees, and volunteers. When the City Council acts on the findings of this directive and the residents take personal action improving race relations, we will become even a better and stronger community than we are today. Our slogan is “We all have a responsibility to end racism!”
Dates of round tables and breakout groups
July 1, 2020 Public Round Table at The Wildey Theatre
July 8, 2020 Public Round Table at City Hall
July 14, 2020 Race Relations and Equality Meeting
July 21, 2020 Public Round Table via Zoom
July 27, 2020 Focus Group with Clergy
August 12, 2020 Focus Group/Affordable Housing and Discrimination
August 19, 2020 Focus Group with Chamber of Commerce and Business Owners
August 26, 2020 Focus Group with SIUE Faculty and Students
September 2, 2020 Focus Group with Social Service Groups
September 17, 2020 Race Relations and Equality Committee Meeting
September 30, 2020 Focus Group meeting with Black Fraternal Organizations/Local Black
October 20, 2020 Race Relations and Equality Committee Meeting with Kesha Kent and
November 12, 2020 Race Relations and Equality Meeting
November 19, 2020 Race Relations and Equality Meeting