The City’s Equity and Empowerment Commission has approved bylaws and adopted an equity and racial framework to create an equity lens to look at the internal workings of City government. The members are Jane Grover, Mario Vela, Kathy Lyons, Delores Holmes, Julie Gorbier de Lara, Monte Dillard, Timothy Eberhardt, Alejandra Ibanez and Melissa Wynne.

The framework is based on seven principles described by the Annie Case Foundation, said Ms. Grover, who, with Mr. Vela, gave an update on Aug. 6 to the City Council’s Rules Committee. The Cas Foundation’s “Seven Steps to Embed Race Equity” are as follows: establish an understanding of race equity and inclusion principles; engage affected populations and stakeholders; gather and analyze disaggregated data; conduct a systems analysis of root causes; identify strategies and target resources to address root causes of inequities; conduct a race equity impact assessment for all policies and decision-making and continuously evaluate effectiveness and adapt strategies.

“We feel that this would allow us to see the inner structure of our City government and the inequities our City faces,” said Mr. Vela. Using the Case Foundation framework, the commission will “craft an equity framework just for Evanston,” he added.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said, “We are looking to you to reverse years and years of racism piled upon some other issues.”

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, questioned why the commission chose to use the framework of the Case Foundation.

“I would suggest that, before we go too far with this, we focus on a group that has done work with government agencies,” she said.

Ms. Holmes said equity work at the City began under former Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. She added, “We began with the Case Foundation, and the first thing they suggest is to choose a common language. It also says that Council members will have to undergo training and participate. You have to sacrifice, too.”

Ms. Grover said the commission expects to be reporting to the Human Services Committee in the future, “but we are reporting to the Rules Committee because this is where it all began.”

 The committee in turn gave the commission its first task in government equity: to craft an equitable policy on the use of translation services, given both the need for such services at City meetings and the constraints of the upcoming budget.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...