The Asheville City Council meets twice this Tuesday, April 11th in the Council Chamber on the 2nd Floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza in downtown Asheville. They will meet at 3 pm for a budget worksession (streaming here), and then at 5 pm for their formal biweekly meeting. The latter can be watched online here, and the agenda is linked here.
Use our prepared email template to take action on this week’s item.
Things that seem problematic
City Council Agenda – Boards and Commissions (Council to determine who, if any, to interview) (List of potential appointees)
City Council will consider applications for the following Boards and Commissions:
- Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (5 applicants, 1 vacancy) (Applicant List)
- Audit Committee (3 applicants, 2 vacancies) (Applicant List)
- Civil Service Board (0 applicants, 1 vacancy)
- Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee Documents (12 applicants, 1 vacancy) (Applicant List)
- Mountain Community Capital Fund (1 new applicant, 1 existing member applicant, 1 vacancy) (Applicant List)
- Neighborhood Advisory Committee (1 applicant, 1 vacancy) (Applicant List)
We raised questions about the racial makeup of the City’s Boards and Commissions in our 3/13 GAP Report last month, and then shared an initial followup in our subsequent 3/20 report. The problem we flagged then persists with this latest round of applications: Out of 23 applicants for open positions, there is only one Black person. What’s more, out of the eight vacancies, two of them are the result of the departure of Black members. Regardless of who is appointed from this current pool, the overall number of Black people serving in these roles will decrease.
In that 3/20 report, we shared Assistant City Clerk Sarah Gross’ report on how staff is addressing the challenge of limited Black participation in Boards and Commissions. Council Member Kim Roney also responded. The only concrete remedy both pointed to was to slow down the appointment process, which would allow for more time to identify and recruit members from communities that are underrepresented. We don’t object to this approach, but think it’s insufficient to adequately address the problem, and are looking to City Council to take some additional leadership here. We wonder how they are working, collectively or individually, to recruit and retain Black community members to serve on Boards and Commissions.
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to the Asheville City Council and ask what they are doing, collectively or individually, to remedy the troubling lack of Black people appointed to serve on City Boards and Commissions.
We have prepared an email template that addresses this issue. You can (a) use our City Council template link to open up an email to adapt, (b) copy and paste the content below, or (c) write your own message to AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov.
Updates on previous items
Follow Up: Community Responder Pilot Program
Last week, we raised questions about this pending program, based on a presentation by Asheville Fire Department Assistant Chief Captain Patrick Crudup at the most recent Environment and Public Safety meeting. The stated goal of the program is “to focus collective efforts to assist persons that are unsheltered and/or experiencing addiction or experiencing behavioral health issues.” We asked whether the folks being placed in these new positions were going to receive any racial equity training, and if so, how that training would be implemented.
GAP subscribers received similar responses from Council Members Sandra Kilgore and Maggie Ullman, and also from Chief Crudup, all asserting that the Community Responders would be receiving the same racial equity training from the City’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. We’d still like to know more about the nature of this training, and will reach out to the Equity and Inclusion Director Brenda Mills for more information.
Things to do
We are not recommending action at this time. We will be reaching out to Equity and Inclusion Director Brenda MIlls for more details on the training protocol for these Community Responders, and will share that information once we get it.
CITY COUNCIL EMAIL TEMPLATE TEXT
You can open this email in your own email program by clicking here. To proceed manually, you can copy and paste the text below into an email and then address it to City Council at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov.
Send to: AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
Subject: What is City Council’s Plan for Increasing Black Membership on Boards and Commissions?
Dear Council Members,
I read that you all will be considering 23 new applications for City Boards and Commissions this week, but that only one of those applicants identifies as Black. The lack of Black membership on these Boards is a longstanding problem, and I know City staff have been doing what they can to address it for some time. I’m wondering what strategies you all as City Council Members are planning to employ, either collectively or individually, to recruit and retain more Black members to these important bodies.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, and thank you for your leadership.