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College Place establishes board focused on diversity, inclusion

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College Place City Council

The city of College Place is aiming to include more diverse voices in the government process by forming a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board.

City Council members expressed excitement at Tuesday’s meeting and voted unanimously to form a board of seven voices tasked with advising the city on strategies to increase public engagement, remove barriers and increase inclusion and access to city services.

This group’s goal will be to strengthen connections between diverse groups and city government.

The city is now looking for applicants to join. Five of the members must be city residents, and two can be people who either live or work within the College Place urban growth area. Lengths of service will be staggered three-year terms.

“This board will help ensure that every voice in our community is heard, and it can also be an early warning system that if we do have issues, that we can address them immediately,” Police Chief Troy Tomaras said. “So I think it’s a great thing for our community, and I wish we’d done it earlier.”

Discussion of creating this board came up between City Administrator Mike Rizzitiello and Tomaras. Rizzitiello said the city had started working on this a couple of years ago but got caught up in other projects, but now is the right time.

When the idea was originally brought to Council in early July, Tomaras said, “In light of some of the things that are going on around our country and around our world, I think it’s just critical that we move forward on this right now.”

Part of College Place’s community vision is being a welcoming city that respects all by encouraging equality, fairness, cooperation, tolerance and respect among all people who live, work and visit the city.

According to the city’s municipal code, the board is formed to help achieve the city’s vision.

Board members will recommend community partnerships that can help the city build relationships with underserved, underrepresented and marginalized communities.

They will bring advice to city leaders on strategies that will strengthen human rights, values and principles, according to city documents.

The board will meet at least once every three months and will give an annual report to the Council. The Youth Advisory Commission will be in communication with this board as well.

Those who want to join the board can fill out the application at ubne.ws/cpdiveristyboard.

The application must be submitted by Aug. 4 to City Clerk Lisa Neissl at lneissl@cpwa.us. The mayor will decide who to appoint with the Council confirming the appointments on Aug. 10.

The first meeting is scheduled for the week of Aug.17.

Chloe LeValley can be reached at chloelevalley@wwub.com or 509-526-8326.

Chloe LeValley covers the cities of Walla Walla and College Place as well as agriculture and the environment in the Walla Walla Valley. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University and joined the Union-Bulletin's team in October 2019.