TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Amid the heightened focus on inequality in the U.S., Tucson Mayor Regina Romero announced she is turning support for minority groups into action with the creation of a new advisory council.
The “Mayoral Advisory Council on Racial Equity & Justice” will be tasked with identifying racial disparities in the community and offering advice on policy changes.
As a Mayoral candidate, Romero ran on a commitment to form the council. Considering recent events, she says now is the perfect time to make good on that promise.
“Our single greatest strength as a city is our diversity; Tucsonans take pride in the fact that we are a culturally diverse and inclusive city with people from all different backgrounds. Yet social inequities that disproportionately affect historically marginalized communities persist,” she said.
Leaders in the local African American community are hopeful for the progress the advisory council could make.
“I started school in a segregated schoolhouse,” said Doris Snowden. “[But] there’s still a long way to go. Integration: it was great! But it also hurt us in that when we did have our segregated schools, everyone knew everyone, and they were concerned [for each other’s wellbeing]. Now, you have teachers that live in the Foothills coming down to the intercity that don’t even understand the students that they're teaching.”
For decades, Snowden has worked to advance justice and prosperity for African Americans, becoming the President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Tucson several years ago.
“This advisory council is an excellent idea because it’s needed for us to give input,” she said.
“[I want] a good representation of the black community in Tucson,” said Romero. “I want to have, as well, age diversity. I’m thinking of being able to have the Latinx community [represented in the advisory council, too].”
Romero says the council, which will be formed in the coming weeks, will be “small but mighty”.
She plans to partner the advisory council with the police review board to also help guide law enforcement policy.
“We do need our police, but we need our police to be trained to work with different minorities … and just the public in general,” said Snowden. “And I would like for us to look at the employment and what are we going to do about that, and the health issues. Our school system also has inadequacies.”
“We can effectively make change in City government,” Romero said.
According to Romero, City Council held off on adopting the tentative budget Tuesday night, in part, to allow the advisory council to give input on where City dollars should be spent.