The Franklin County Commissioners this morning voted to add a new entry to their list of fundamental principles
. The pursuit of racial equity now joins community safety and security, job creation and economic development, health and human services, environmental sustainability, and fiscally responsible government among the set of guiding principles the commissioners use to set county policy.
“Race plays a part in almost every aspect of our daily lives,” said Franklin County Board of Commissioners President John O’Grady. “And the only way to address the issues of inclusion, diversity, equity, and racism is head-on. We’re proud to take this step, and hope that it can be a model for other local governments in Central Ohio and around the state.”
The commissioners have long worked to ensure that everyone in our community is able to join in its success, including by promoting racial equity, inclusion, and diversity in all aspects of county government, and they have taken a number of concrete steps in recent years to further that goal. In 2018, the board commissioned the Rise Together Blueprint for Reducing Poverty
, which brough together hundreds of residents living in poverty with experts from the Central Ohio social services community to create a plan to help all of our residents thrive. That plan includes 13 large goals in the areas of Jobs, Housing, Health, and Youth, and more than 130 action steps to help make those goals a reality.
“Our core principles tell you what we value and what is valuable,” said Commissioner Marilyn Brown. “They’re what guide us as we set policy and make spending decisions, and that is why it is essential that we’re including racial equity. We’ve always taken racial equity into account, and this action ensures it will be part of the foundation of everything we do.”
In recent years, the commissioners have also created an economic and inclusion taskforce, a construction inclusion team
to ensure that the workforce and suppliers building county facilities reflect the community, and an office to support disadvantaged businesses
seeking to work with the county, and instituted racial equity training requirements for county leadership and partners. Earlier this year, the commissioners also declared racism to be a public health crisis
, and noted its effect on health, housing, education, employment, and criminal justice. Last month, the commissioners also announced the creation of a new role in their administration for a chief economic equity and inclusion officer to promote equitable access to opportunity throughout the county.
“We know that our Black and other non-white residents experience disparate outcomes throughout Franklin County, from higher infant mortality to shorter life-expectancy, and from low-performing schools to higher rates of unemployment,” said Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce. “It’s not enough to just wish these things weren’t the case. It’s important to name the problem and set concrete plans in place to begin to address it, and it’s important to make this part of the lens through which we view everything we do at Franklin County.”
In addition to establishing racial equity as part of the commissioners’ core principles, the resolution passed this morning by the commissioners also pledges to:
- Disrupt poverty by seeking to proactively advance racial equity.
- Collaborate with residents, community partners and institutions to promote racial equity in all areas of government, education, criminal justice, health, housing, and economic success to increase the value of services provided to the community.
- Commit to creating and sustaining an organizational culture that applies equity principles internally in order to end disparities in hiring and promotions.
- Increase opportunities in contracting and access for funding to minority businesses.
The full text of the resolution is available here