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Los Gatos Commission wants to create a more inclusive community

Los Gatos Commission wants to create a more inclusive community
The Los Gatos Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion held its first meeting on January 11 and aims to advise the City Council on inclusion needs and how to create a welcoming space.

By Annalize Freimarck. San Jose Spotlight.

A new Los Gatos commission is looking at how the city treats the people who live and work there, and how it welcomes visitors.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission held its first meeting on January 11 and aims to advise the Los Gatos City Council on inclusion needs and how to create a welcoming space. 

Commissioners prioritized several elements, including developing an annual communications campaign, an equitable review of city events and creating a more collaborative environment among city groups such as the Arts and Culture Commission. The group also plans to identify how to incorporate DEI policies in schools and review the decision-making process for community grants.

The priorities align with recommendations the city received from the American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley (ALF) that came forward to evaluate DEI concerns.

Dominic Broadhead, one of nine commissioners appointed by the city council, said he has faced discrimination and hate speech in the city. He was appointed to the Los Gatos-based organization position because he works at LGS Recreation, the Los Gatos-Saratoga Community Education and Recreation Center.

He joined the commission to ensure that other members of the community are not subjected to discriminatory behavior.

“I want to be part of the driving force to ensure that (discrimination) doesn't happen as often or at all, (and) that people feel more comfortable being here,” she told San José Spotlight.

Councilors approved the creation of the commission in a 4-1 vote last September, with Mayor Mary Badame being the only one to vote against.

Badame said he opposed the commission because the city has these benchmarks and that he thought the commission was redundant during the council's Oct. 17, 2023 meeting. However, he supports it.

“We are excited to have an outstanding group of people dedicated to making Los Gatos an inclusive community where everyone feels welcome,” he told San José Spotlight.

The commission includes three Los Gatos residents, two youth commissioners, a community health and services commissioner, a commissioner employed by a Los Gatos-based company, a religious leader and an employee of a nonprofit organization based in Los Gatos. The cats. The arts and culture commissioner and business owner positions are still vacant.

Commissioners can serve from one to three years depending on their appointment and can be re-elected when their term expires.

The group emerged from a tense history of discrimination in the city.

In 2021, protesters disrupted several Los Gatos council meetings, spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement, and attacked former Mayor Marico Sayoc and her son, targeting their sexuality. State Senator Dave Cortese later approved legislation prohibiting unruly behavior at public gatherings.

Following the events of 2021, the council hired ALF to review its processes and policies to ensure they were aligned with the city's Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan, also known as JEDI. The council reviewed the report's findings in 2022, which revealed community concerns about inclusion. ALF recommended that the city form a commission to continue fostering a JEDI-based environment.

Jeff Suzuki, 25, has lived in Los Gatos since he was 10 years old. As president of the Los Gatos Anti-Racism Coalition, he said the commission has potential, but he's not sure how much its work will affect city politics.

“(The commission) can be given a lot of power to come up with policies, make changes, build the right relationships and really get that needle moving. Or it can be actively paralyzed,” he told San José Spotlight. “I'm afraid of that.”

Councilman Rob Moore supported the commission last year and said that after hearing the experiences of marginalized communities in Los Gatos, he believes the commission will help inform the council on diversity and inclusion issues.

“Those are people whose voices matter as much as anyone else's in our community,” he told San José Spotlight.

Broadhead said she is hopeful the group's work will lead to a more inclusive city.

“I just don't want people to be afraid of the words diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said. “We want to add more opportunities, more possibilities for growth.”

The commission will meet every second Thursday of the month at 5 pm and audio of the meetings will be recorded and made available to the public.

This article originally appeared on San Jose Spotlight. Link to the original note:

This publication was supported in whole or part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the CaliFornia State Library.

You may be interested in: New report shows Latinos and AAPIs underrepresented in California governor's appointees

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