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Diversity

City officials’ attempts to increase diversity a slow process

January 23, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer (apeterson@esthervillenews.net) , Estherville News

The Estherville City Council went through the decade-long history of the Local Option Sales &?Service Tax (LOSST) at Monday night's meeting.

Council member Cindy Hood raised concerns about the projected shrinking population of Estherville and Emmet County for the 2020 Census, and asked why she did not see any information about a diversity workgroup included in the plans for the use of the funds.

"We need to figure out a way to make this happen. There is no racial diversity on any committee or board in this community.?Word of mouth won't do it. How do we start embracing diversity?"?Hood said.

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Police chief Brett Shatto said a Latino advisory committee was dissolved due to lack of anyone from that population attending a meeting. Individuals from the local Hispanic/Latino community were concerned someone would take them away from the meeting in handcuffs, depsite the assurances of Shatto and others that this was not the purpose of these meetings, and further, the local law enforcement officers do not drive around and grab people off the street who may or may not have issues with immigration papers.

"If they commit a crime and we arrest them, then we have to deal with the immigration authorities,"?Shatto said.

Chief Shatto said he has found the members of the Latinx community to be an asset to the area, but that in his observation, they prefer to spend their time off work at home or with their own families or social groups.

Fact Box

The Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs will hold its second Latino Day on the Hill tomorrow, Jan. 25 at the Iowa State Capitol Rotunda in?Des Moines from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Commission will hold its quarterly meeting right after Day on the Hill in the Legislative?Dining Room at the Capitol from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information contact Sonia Reyes-Snyder at 515-281-4080 or email sonia.reyes-snyder@iowa.gov.

Shatto said about a year ago, Emmet County held a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement tactical training in the Roosevelt School building, and a rumor started that there was some sort of immigration sweep and search of area homes. The police department reached out via Facebook and other media to reassure community members that this was not the case, nor were there any plans to launch such an effort.

Hood asked about diversity in the Estherville Police Department.

Shatto said the department is part of an 11-unit partnership that hires from the police academy. There is diversity throughout the partnership, but not in Estherville at this moment. The department has women on its reserve squad and once had a woman serve 15 years in the EPD. Shatto said when local law enforcement has had job shadows and ride-alongs for students at the high schools and Iowa Lakes Community College, there is diversity in the students who show an interest in law enforcement.

Hood said, "Get that out to the paper and use that success to build future success. It helps."?

Estherville Chamber director Lexie Ruter said individuals have approached the Chamber with an idea for some kind of multicultural festival, but did not say when or how to do it.

"I don't know right now what that would look like," Ruter said.

City administrator Penny Clayton said, "We would need to find the right partner to help with that and with other diversity efforts; there are not enough hours in the day."?

Bob Jensen, head of Excel!?Estherville, said, "Any openings on board or committees, we have gone to Hispanic leaders. I?100 percent agree we need more diversity. We need to work on barriers such as language."?

Jensen said he has gone to the Spanish-speaking churches, often to make a donation to a program from Excel, and found issues to include the need for an interpreter and that events the community has hosted have not drawn the interest leaders had hoped.

"They're very content to be in their own homes, working in their own businesses. We haven't found the key,"?Jensen said.

Council member Ann Goebel said years ago when she was a Boy Scout leader, the troop made an effort to reach out to boys to join Scouts with little success.

"We're at the fourth or fifth generation of families here in Estherville in some cases, and now the kids are doing sports, speech, music, winning awards, and taking part in all these activities. It's not like we're not doing anything. We can't force people to want to be part of the community,"?Goebel said.

Council member Roger Guge said, "We've come a long way...strides have been made since I was a coach at Iowa Lakes Community College. We continue to have a tough time in this country with what's being said and done."?

Clayton said the city would fulfill its promise made with the LOST fund referendum to increase inclusion and diversity in Estherville.

According to the Iowa Data Center, Emmet County's foreign-born population between 2013-2017 included 785 people, excluding any born at sea.

Forty-two individuals were born in Europe with 13 from England and 13 from Germany.

The Iowa Data Center study estimated 36 people were born in Asia, including 10 born in China.

It was estimated 578 individuals were born in Latin America and Central America (with Mexico considered by researchers to be part of Central America).

Those born in Mexico numbered 479, with 23 from?Guatemala, 61 from Honduras, and 25 from El Salvador.

The U.S. Census Bureau states its American Community Survey comes with fairly wide margins of error (the margin is plus or minus 133 people for people born in Mexico, for example)?because it can be difficult to locate individuals to count and to receive complete information from those who do participate in the studies.

The count of individuals born in other countries does not include people of non-white backgrounds who were born in Estherville or another part of Iowa, or who were born in another part of the United States and subsequently moved to Emmet County.

The council members agreed that presenting the most accurate count of Emmet County residents for the 2020 census was important for funding and numerous other reasons.

The U.S. Census Bureau has created collaborative partnerships for the 2020 Census. Complete Count Committees (CCCs)?are made up of individuals and organizations to spread the word about the importance of the 2020 Census in communities nad special population groups. The CCCs help the Census Bureau get a complete count in 2020 through partnerships with local governments.

 
 
 

 

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