Citizen-Led Unity Council Presents Racial Equity Plan to Arlington City Council
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communication
Posted on February 23, 2021, February 23, 2021

Unity Council Report

After eight months of research and a series of community conversations, the citizen-led Unity Council presented a proposed racial equity plan to the Arlington City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The 28-member Unity Council’s mission has been to gather community input, research best practices and recommend strategies that the City of Arlington could implement to promote and encourage greater equity and to advance unity across our community. The Unity Council’s work, which began in July 2020, is part of the City’s commitment to equality, inclusion and the elimination of institutional racism and other forms of discrimination in its policies and practices.

The 132-page comprehensive report focuses on five areas of study: Economic Disparities; Education and Workforce Training; Housing: Health and Wellness: Policing and Criminal Justice. The Unity Council’s presentation identifies nearly 60 recommendations for short-, mid- and long-term goals in these areas based on months of data analysis and public feedback, which included interviews, focus groups and virtual town hall meetings in November, December, and January. The recommendations, which touch on topics such as affordable housing, food deserts, internet access, police relations and more, were drafted based on the work of more than 40 Unity Council and subcommittee meetings.

The Arlington City Council will evaluate these recommendations and create an action plan that can be referred to as the City moves forward with new or amended policies, programs, and initiatives over the coming months.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said some of the more challenging recommendations in the report may take longer to implement, but the City is prepared to act.

“I can tell you a statement that got me worked up, and that ‘not to be putting Band-Aids or workarounds on these (concerns) to satisfy the citizens.’ We have a responsibility here to address these (concerns). There may be some here that are unachievable, that we may not be able to get to, or we may disagree with, but we better have reasons why. This is our time and our opportunity move forward,” Williams said. “We need to show progress here to our citizens quickly.”

Among the Unity Council’s many recommendations is the creation of a permanent task force charged with directly engaging local residents, organizations, and institutions on matters regarding race, ethnicity, and other forms of diversity.

“Each of the 28 people who served on the Unity Council are just as unique and diverse as our City. That’s why one of our goals was to demonstrate that we can, in fact, ‘all get along’ and find common ground despite our differences,” Unity Council Chair Dr. Jason E. Shelton said in the report. “We reached that goal, and along the way have provided a blueprint for showing other large and diverse cities how to address racial and ethnic inequality in a way that is respectful and inclusive of residents."

Click here to read the full Unity Council Report, presented on Feb. 23, 2021.

Unity Council
News, Government, City Council

Unity Council Report Recommendations