City Councilors Proposing to Re-Affirm the City’s Commitment to Racial and Social Equity

Westside Councilors Peña, Borrego, and Sena are co-sponsoring R-20-75 for Final Action at Wednesday’s City Council Meeting.

September 9, 2020

City Councilors Klarissa Peña, Cynthia Borrego, and Lan Sena, themselves representing diversity as Councilwomen of color, are co-sponsoring R-20-75, which seeks to re-affirm the City’s commitment to addressing racial and social equity and establish a foundation for improving equity in City policy, process, programming, and service delivery at the departmental level with support and direction from the City of Albuquerque’s Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI). 

This resolution calls for equity training for all City of Albuquerque Department Directors, and for departments to conduct racial equity impact assessments. OEI would be directed to identify indicators related to equity and inclusion to be included in the City’s five-year goals according to 4 key principles: committing and embedding equity, ensuring equity in resource allocation, ensuring equity in public messaging, and transparent use of equity data in decision-making. The Office of Equity and Inclusion would also be required to make annual reports to the Mayor and Council outlining the results of demographic and geographic data collection. 

Race and Social Equity Press Conference

“Our Office is grateful to have a Mayor and City Council who value equity and who understand that it takes disaggregated data and intentional action to make change,” said Michelle Melendez, inaugural director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion established by Mayor Tim Keller. “We are working to improve our community’s outcomes so that race is no longer a predictor of one’s health, wealth and safety.”

R-75 includes provisions describing how race and social equity need to be considered in the City’s planning, decision-making, and budgeting processes.  Race and social equity should additionally be considered in descriptions of disparities and policy areas related to health, mental health, housing, minority business, employment, equal opportunity, immigration, and youth development. 

“We define inequities as disparities in health, mental health, economic indicators, housing, education, or social factors that are systemic and unjust,” said Councilor Peña. “And we acknowledge that structural and institutional racism have led to racially disparate outcomes in many aspects of quality of life. This legislation is a great step in righting those inequities.”

The City would further be directed to support the start-up and growth of businesses owned by people of color and women. The bill directs workforce development support for youth and workers of color. 

Councilor Sena continued, “We are a majority-minority City with 59% of our residents being people of color. Because the City benefits from the diversity of its population, we want to incorporate the expertise of those most negatively impacted by inequity in the identification and implementation of policies, programs, and budget processes and decisions.”

To address implementation, R-75 requires the City to complete a data collection plan, excluding APD to avoid conflicts with existing CASA requirements, and for departments to conduct racial impact assessments. Should the bill pass, Departments will also be directed to include an equity note as part of their annual report to City Council for internal review during the budget approval process.

“Quoting the great American poetess Maya Angelo ‘I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it’.” Councilor Borrego goes on to describe “Change is the only way we as a society grow and make the world a better place for us, and our children--all of our children, no matter their color.”

A floor substitute of the bill was approved at the August 17th City Council Meeting, then deferred to tonight’s meeting. R-20-75 will be on the agenda for final action. The bill represents the City’s commitment to honor its racial and social diversity as a gift to its future coherence and a promise to its past challenges.