Canal Winchester anti-racism resolution awaits residents’ comment

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek

Canal Winchester City Council’s proposed anti-racism resolution again has been revised with residents now having the opportunity to weigh in. 

The “resolution to our commitment to equity” condemns racism and discrimination “in all forms” and encourages “racial equity among all community partners, grantees, vendors and contractors” and promotes “unity with due respect to the diversity of all thoughts, beliefs and demographics.” 

“We did have a resident ask that since this is the first time residents are seeing it that we don’t vote to pass it this week but give residents a chance to read through the published version … so they can comment,” Councilwoman Jill Amos said. 

City of Canal Winchester

So, council agreed to remove the resolution from consideration at its Dec. 7 work session. It’s not clear when it might receive a vote. 

“We want community buy-in on this,” Councilman Chuck Milliken said. “We want this to be positive and something we can all get behind. … I like to think of this as a door-opener and a way to get the conversation going.” 

The resolution is available online at canalwinchesterohio.gov in the agenda for council’s Dec. 7 work session. Residents who want to comment on it at council’s Dec. 21 meeting must fill out an online form by noon Dec. 18. 

Both Amos and Milliken proposed draft resolutions that were discussed during a recent meeting with residents who have been vocal about change. 

“You’re not going to get all 9,000 residents of the community, but to get the leaders of the community, those people who tend to speak for a large group – if you get them involved, what better way to get buy-in for something?” Councilman Pat Lynch said. 

The resolution also states that council “believes” city administrators and elected officials should “seek out and attend an annual diversity and/or racial-bias training.” 

However, council President Mike Walker asked that the language be amended to say city administrators and elected officials “will attend” annual training. 

“We would be setting an example, and it would be an ongoing thing that we would attend,” Walker said. 

In September, council appeared ready to declare racism a public-health crisis, following the lead of a handful of cities, including Columbus and Youngstown, as well as Franklin County Public Health, which serves Canal Winchester. It was one of the first public agencies nationally to formally declare racism a public health crisis in May. 

In June, a unified message came from those who participated in a town-hall meeting held via a live video feed from the Frances Steube Community Center: Racism has no place in Canal Winchester. 

The meeting was the latest in a series of gatherings Canal Winchester City Council began holding quarterly in fall 2019 to have informal conversations with residents. 

Council Vice President Mike Coolman said he would like to see a future town-hall-style meeting to discuss the resolution. 

“Now is the opportunity for every resident to have their say and give their feedback,” Amos said. 

editorial@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekNews