Erie County Council and the Erie County Executive are looking to fill seats in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Commission.
Former Erie County Executive Dahlkemper says she declared racism a public health crisis. It was this initiative that led to the creation of county’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission.
The county’s DEI Commission has been forming over the last two years.
In the last few months, County Executive Brenton Davis has removed all but one of its members.
The commission has been evolving since September of 2020 when former County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper created a resolution to address issues facing the black community.
Dahlkemper declared racism a public health crisis.
“The pandemic really opened the door and let us seen all these inequities in a very glaring way. So you really cannot ignore them at that point,” said Kathy Dahlkemper, former Erie County Executive.
Erie County Council approved this resolution to address health, education, housing and economic disparities.
This resolution led to the creation of the DEI Commission in 2021.
“I think they’re just struggling to get started, and they kind of stepped on the wrong foot and maybe tripped a little bit at the beginning, and that’s why we put a pause on it. We’re going to put some new people in there, get the commission up and running, and set them free, and let them go,” said Brian Shank, Erie County Councilman.
“How we can integrate all of these pieces, all of these moving pieces to bring things together to not just hand out money or to create band aid solutions, but to create solutions that are long lasting,” said Mary Rennie, Erie County Councilwoman.
A representative from the county executive’s office says while there has been a disruption, the administration is hopeful about the future of the commission and they have plans to fill those positions.
“We want to see a true diverse board of all colors, creeds, races, religions, and that’s really what the DEIC is for, and that’s what the county executive is committed to doing,” said Chris Carroll, Erie County Information Officer.
The removal of commission members has sparked legal battles. However, the county executive says his administration still has plans to replace them.