JAMESTOWN – Mayor Eddie Sundquist says he is focused on bringing more diversity to city hall and is calling on the community to make that a reality.
On Sunday during a Community Justice rally in Dow Park, Sundquist spent about 10 minutes addressing the crowd, saying one of his main goals during his term is to make city government and those who work there more reflective of the people of the community it serves. He said that starts with the revitalization of the city’s Human Rights Commission.
“We need this commission to come together and actually start to make some real change, and figure out what is going on on our streets, because clearly we’ve been not able to do that in the past couple years. So this commission, the folks who have joined and who want to be part of it, are here to do just that. Help us as a city figure out where we need to go. Help us as a city figure out how to be more diverse and inclusive,” Sundquist said.
Sundquist also alleged that there are currently policies in city government that put people of color at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring them for positions.
“I know that we’ve got some policies that are frankly white-washed. We’ve got policies here in the city that basically say, ‘If you’re white you get the job.’ Those are the things we need to change and the things I am committed to changing here in this city,” Sundquist said.
While alleging that policies exist that favor whites over other community members of color, Sundquist did not specifically detail what those policies are. It is against both federal and state law for any community to have a policy in place that favors the employment of one person over the other based on race, ethnicity or religious beliefs.
The Post-Journal reported on Monday that Jamestown City Council president Tony Dolce is calling the whitewashing statement inaccurate.
Meanwhile, Sundquist also said that he’s received over 70 applications from city residents to serve on the Human Rights Commission – which is only allowed to have up to 12 members. However, he said that all applicants – regardless of whether or not they are selected – will still be encouraged to attend any commission meeting and offer input to help guide the development of future policy and oversight.
Sundquist also said that he is continuing the process of looking for the city’s next police chief after current chief Harry Snellings announced earlier this month that he would be retiring in July.
Last week Jamestown City Council president Tony Dolce told WRFA that an acting chief will likely be hired first, to allow for city officials to have the time to fully vet and finally choose a permanent replacement.