OPINION: Clackamas County plays dangerous economic game by cutting equity and inclusion office

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The Clackamas County Equity and Inclusion office will not have a chance to fulfill its mission to honor and celebrate the County’s diverse employees and residents and create greater Countywide “safety, connection, and belonging.” The County now loses essential translation, interpretation, and hearing accommodations, employee resource groups, the racial equity support line, and the ability to conduct key environmental studies. The County also erases its land acknowledgement. This vital programming delivered on the mission and vision of a County that is connected, compassionate, and learning.

I believe the role of government is to deliver world class services to our constituents, especially underserved communities. Good government requires a lens that considers all impacts and seeks to level the playing field. Opportunity must be available to all of us, which requires a realistic assessment of the roadblocks/barriers many of our fellow Oregonians face. It is incumbent on the County to provide services to all of us and to do so equitably. Many of those services were designed to reach underserved folks in our County, but without an equity and inclusion lens, those services will go to waste (or will not be delivered as intended).

We also have many open County employee positions, and we need a strong workforce to efficiently deliver the services we have paid for. But how can we attract the most talented workforce if we exclude many of the County’s communities? By enhancing our commitment to equity and inclusion in the application of policy, hiring, and service delivery our local government can better understand the needs of all and actually meet them.

As our region continues to grow, our County needs to enhance their competitive advantage, diversify their tax base, invite economic investment, reduce harm to those most in need, and show that our commitment to every person is one of fairness and equal opportunity. We should want business and people to see our County as a strong, vital place to invest their time and innovation. Subverting the will of the workforce and undermining the stability and future growth within our small business community is a dangerous economic game.

This is about our future, our children’s future, and our communities. I implore each of you to please use your voice, support our County by joining Boards and Commissions, writing letters, showing up to meetings, and above all know that together we are a force to be reckoned with. People who live in Clackamas County should feel compelled to invest their talent and skills here. After all, Clackamas County is for everyone.


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