Montgomery County’s latest plan to tackle racial inequity

Montgomery County, Maryland, will soon start a major effort aimed at righting the wrongs of systemic racism. The county council has unanimously voted to create a special office to regulate racial fairness.

“The bill, as amended, is going to establish a racial equity and social justice program. It’s going to establish an Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice in the executive branch,” said Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro, chief sponsor of the measure.

Also, under terms of the bill, a 15-member advisory committee on racial fairness would be formed, including representatives from county government and eight members of the general public.

“It must reflect the range of ethnicities, professional backgrounds, socioeconomic status and places of origin, to reflect the racial, economic and linguistic diversity of the county’s communities, with an emphasis on those most disproportionately impacted by inequities,” Navarro said.

All county employees must undergo racial equity training, and every government department and office must develop a “racial equity and social justice action plan.”

In addition, the bill will require all proposed legislation or public policy initiatives to include a statement on the measure’s potential impact on minorities.

The county estimates that the cost of the program, aimed at ensuring racial fairness, would cost about $400,000 per year.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich supports the bill, and a spokesman for Elrich said the county executive plans to sign it sometime in the weeks ahead.

“This legislation is an instrument … this is not the answer to everything that we are facing in this county,” Navarro said.

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