OLYMPIA – Today, the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a resolution declaring racism a crisis in Thurston County. In a subsequent meeting, the Board of Health then proclaimed racism is a public health crisis.
“This is the beginning of a long road to improve the lives of Black, indigenous, and people of color,” said Commissioner, Carolina Mejia. “I am proud that soon we can finally provide some action behind our words. This is a step forward for all of Thurston County.”
Board of County Commissioners Vice-Chair, Gary Edwards said, “I appreciate the awareness this resolution brings to the issue of racial inequality and look forward to doing our part to support efforts to promote fairness and equity for all. There is always room for improvement.”
Following the Board of Health proclamation, Board of Health Chair, Tye Menser said, “Today Thurston County took a significant step toward acknowledging, and addressing, systemic racism in this county and laying out actionable ways we can work toward equity for all.”
The resolution lays out eight actions the county and Board of County Commissioners will do to address racism, including:
- Declaring racism is a crisis in Thurston County.
- Committing to taking actions to work toward racial equity.
- Creating a county Racial Equity Action Plan by June 30, 2021.
- Establishing a policy advisory committee to advise the board on meaningful policies to advance racial equity.
- Working with county offices and departments to review hiring practices to recruit and retain Black, Indigenous and People of Color in county government.
- Establishing alliances and securing adequate resources, including funding, to successfully accomplish the actions identified in this resolution.
- Asking businesses, non-profits, academia, large institutions, faith-based organizations, service clubs, and residents to also rise to the challenge of this crisis.
- Committing to promoting equity, inclusion, and diversity in all aspects of county government.
County Manager, Ramiro Chavez added, “I believe this is a very important step for our county to move forward in ensuring racial equity for all. The steps laid out in the resolution provide us with actionable, measurable, and attainable goals to begin addressing inequities and ensuring equal treatment, regardless of race. This is a long journey and we are committed to the road ahead.”