Mayor Jenny Durkan has announced the members selected for the 28-person Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force, a group her office says will “spearhead a community-led process” to allocate “a historic $100 million new investment in Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities” and “address the deep disparities caused by systemic racism and institutionalized oppression.”
The task force will include District 3 connections in the pastor of 14th Ave’s First AME Church, the president of Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central College, the head of Central District nonprofit Byrd Barr Place, and Ray Williams of the Black Farmers Collective, the urban farming group active in the Yesler neighborhood and the Central District.
- Pastor Carey Anderson, First AME Church
- Sean Bagsby, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 46
- LaNesha Bebardelden, Northwest African American Museum
- Marlon Brown, Black Lives Matter Seattle and King County
- Maggie Angel Cano, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition
- Andrea Caupain, Byrd Barr Place
- Trish Millines Dziko, Technology Access Foundation
- Mahnaz K. Eshetu, Refugee Women’s Alliance
- Ollie Garrett, Tabor 100
- Lynda Greene, Southeast Seattle Senior Center
- Chris Lampkin, Service Employees International Union 1199NW
- Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, Seattle Central College
- Paulina Lopez, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition
- Esther Lurcero, Seattle Indian Health Board
- Michelle Merriweather, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
- Estela Ortega, El Centro de la Raza
- Carolyn Riley-Payne, Seattle King County NAACP
- Rizwan Rizwi, Muslim Housing Services
- Victoria Santos, Young Women Empowered
- Steven Sawyer, POCAAN
- Michael Tulee, United Indians of All Tribes
- Ray Williams, Black Farmers Collective
- Sharon Williams, CD Forum
- Pastor Lawrence Willis, United Black Clergy
- Maiko Winkler-Chin, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDPDA)
- Christina Wong, NW Harvest
- Beto Yarce, Ventures
- Ex officio – Debora Juarez, District 5, Seattle City Councilmember
CHS reported here on Durkan’s $100 million pledge made during the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations as the mayor expanded to focus to include Seattle’s BIPOC — “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” — communities, not only its Black citizens.
While the group formed for the task force represents multiple communities of color and important groups including El Centro de la Raza, the Seattle Indian Health Board, and the Northwest African American Museum, groups more active in the summer’s activism like King County Equity Now and leaders like Nikkita Oliver will not have a seat at the table.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for the mayor’s office tells CHS there have been “direct asks to KCEN members by the Mayor’s Office and task force members to have KCEN join the task force.” “Thus far they have declined,” the spokesperson said. “From a City standpoint we welcome working with KCEN on a range of issues to support and uplift Seattle’s communities of color.”
The Seattle Times reports at least 19 people have declined invitations to join the task force.
King County Equity Now and others including members of the Seattle City Council continue to push for more community budgeting power beyond the mayor’s task force. KCEN has launched a “Black Brilliance Project,” a team of over 100 community members, to lay the groundwork for participatory budgeting over the next couple months with public safety and racial equity research. The council, meanwhile, has approved $3 million in funding to begin development of a participatory budgeting process in Seattle.
In the task force announcement, Durkan’s office says more efforts toward participatory budgeting might be an outcome of the task force’s recommendations and that “a portion of funds may be earmarked to pilot a citywide participatory budgeting process, capacity building for organizations, or new pilot programs to address disparities.”
The mayor also made it clear she is asking that the task force spending plan “builds on additional city investments and programs.”
“For proven City programs with successful outcomes for communities of color like the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), the Seattle Preschool Program, and others, the task force may advocate for deeper investments to quickly address urgent community needs in programs with an already established infrastructure,” the announcement reads.
Durkan’s office says the task force will be “supported by City departments to help navigate legal and policy challenges, to provide an overview of the city budget, and current investments in areas like housing, education, and social services.” The city will also “help coordinate or provide resources to conduct additional research to make programmatic recommendations that Mayor Durkan can include in her 2021 supplemental budget proposal.”
The task force’s work begins this month reviewing a city analysis of current “programs and outcomes, briefings on City policies and ethics requirements, the 2021 budget, and impacts of Initiative 200.” Beginning in November, the mayor’s announcement says, the task force will “engage with community through a series of listening sessions to inform members of the most urgent needs.”
The City Council, meanwhile, continues its work to shape Durkan’s 2021 budget proposal including planned cuts to the Seattle Police Department.
Task force members are being asked to form recommendations for how the city should spend $100 million for social and community programs but not will not make specific awards or choosing particular contractors, according to the mayor’s announcement.
The group is being compensated for its participation. “Recognizing that communities of color have often been abused by volunteerism – lending considerable time and expertise to correct systemic problems while not being paid – the City has set aside funds to ensure members are compensated and do not face financial hardship due to participation,” the announcement reads.
The recommendations are due to the mayor in spring 2021.
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