The city of Camas has established an equity advisory committee to address real and perceived inequities in how the city serves its community.
“This resolution is a step forward for our community,” Camas City Administrator Jamal Fox said at the city council’s Dec. 7 workshop.
The committee, approved by councilors on Dec. 21, will help Camas with its goal of “creating a welcoming community for all to live, work and play,” Fox added.
Councilmembers Greg Anderson, Ellen Burton and Bonnie Carter will act as the city council’s representatives on the ad hoc committee’s steering group.
“It’s been a very long, collaborative process with a few twists and turns getting to this point,” Anderson said at the Dec. 21 council meeting of the equity advisory committee’s formation.
Burton said the committee would be “important to the foundation” of the Camas community.
“We want to make sure our policies are equitable across the board … (and) be welcoming to all citizens of Camas no matter what their aptitudes, color of their skin (or) income levels.”
In the resolution council passed on Dec. 21, forming the ad hoc committee, city leaders said Camas citizens “deserve increased access, equity, diversity and inclusion in the programs and services the city offers.”
Fox added that “equity” was not just a buzzword for city leaders.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are priorities for the city,” Fox said at the Dec. 7 meeting.
The new committee will follow the Camas School District’s framework for discussing equity and inclusion with residents and stakeholders.
The steering committee hopes to host town halls and listening sessions, as well as send out communitywide surveys, to hear about inequities in the city.
“We need to hear from the community in 2021 and then we will come back, discuss it with Council and discuss next steps forward at that point,” Fox said.
The process, Fox added, will ultimately lead to a final report presented to city councilors relating to legislation, policies and practices that may need to be revised to help prioritize the city’s goals of being more equitable, diverse and inclusive.
City Councilman Don Chaney said in early December that he hoped the committee would branch out to include all forms of diversity and equity in the city.
“I have a daughter who is handicapped, so among all the issues of equity we’re concerned with, that’s the one that hits me,” Chaney said on Dec. 7. “Hopefully we’ll be able to reach out and involve all aspects of equity … and think of ways to entice a broad variety (of community members) to help inform us of these issues in the future.”
Chaney added that he would like to hear from the ad hoc committee members about their progress in the spring or summer months, “to engage the conversation mid-process.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Councilwoman Bonnie Carter as Shannon Carter. The Post-Record apologizes for the error.