Leander City Council denies proposal for diversity, inclusion council

Leander City Council denied the diversity and inclusion council proposal at their Sept. 17 regular meeting. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)

Leander City Council denied the diversity and inclusion council proposal at their Sept. 17 regular meeting. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)

In a proposal to Leander City Council, a group of seven Leander residents requested that the city form a "City of Leander Diversity and Inclusion Council."

The request was denied.

The group would "serve as an advisory board to the Mayor and City Council members and will be composed of community members and city liaisons to lead and guide the city’s diversity and inclusion efforts, including the establishment and implementation of the city’s Diversity Strategic Plan," according to the group's proposal in the meeting agenda.

After over 200 public comments and council discussion, the Leander City Council denied the proposal in a 6-1 vote. Council Member Christine Sederquist voted against the denial.

Following a recent online video of Leander ISD students in Cedar Park yelling racial slurs and stealing Black Lives Matters signs, Sederquist said there is a need for this group. She said discrimination does not end at the border of Cedar Park and Leander.

The cities of Pflugerville and Hutto formed similar diversity groups in July.

Three people spoke in favor and four people spoke against the proposal during the meeting. Additionally, about 75 people registered in favor of the item. About 150 people registered in opposition.

Davina Stringer, a member of the proposed group, said the group wants to work with city council, not against.

"What I hope to happen, is our community can work together," Stringer said. "We know that by legitimizing our group we would be informed by council."

Other city council members said the proposal addressed a social issue and did not belong in government. Council Member Marci Cannon said she didn't like adding additional levels to government. She said she has never heard that Leander and Leander ISD does not have diversity and inclusion.

"I don't know why we're trying to weave this into a government committee," she said.

The proposal included a section that said the council chair was a voting member of board and commission appointments in conjunction with Leander City Council. Cannon raised this as a concern, and Sederquist said that section would be redlined.

Council Member Kathryn Pantalion-Parker said the proposal sounds like indoctrination or reeducation to her. She said the proposal is political, and the proposed council does not belong in city government.

“Please continue what you’re doing, just not [as] part of the city,” Pantalion-Parker said to the public after the vote.

Council Member Chris Czernek said the proposal was not something that he wanted to subject city staff and future city staff to manage.

“This is not something that I would support for this city,” Czernek said.

Council Member Michelle Stephenson said the heart and intent of the proposal is good, but she said she is not for making it a part of the government as an official commission.

“Matters of the heart are best taken over by private groups and nonprofits,” Stephenson said.
By Taylor Girtman
After interning with Community Impact Newspaper in 2019, Taylor Girtman became a reporter for the Cedar Park and Leander edition in February 2020.


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