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Building on the present, preparing for the future: Council unanimously adopts 2013 Equity and Social Justice work plan

Summary

Focus on continued implementation, outreach

Story

Building on current initiatives and focusing on long-term efforts to promote fairness and opportunity and eliminate inequities for all county residents, the Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved its 2013 Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) work plan.

“Even as we’re starting to see signs of recovery from the Great Recession, the income and opportunities gap continue to grow along economic, racial, geographical, educational, and gender lines,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “This is why it is extremely important that our government continue to meaningfully incorporate the principles of Equity and Social Justice for every resident of Martin Luther King County.”

“The adoption of the Council’s ESJ work plan continues and expands our commitment to equity in King County,” said Council Vice Chair Julia Patterson. “This commitment prioritizes both our focus to be more responsive and accessible to all communities and ensuring a just and fair workplace for our employees.”

“This work plan reaffirms our commitment to ‘robust civic Engagement.’ It documents our commitment to equity and social justice especially for those who have been historically underserved,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “Significantly, this initiative emphasizes inclusive and accessible public processes— hearings, forums and town halls – in local communities where our citizens live and work.”

Launched in 2008 as the Equity and Social Justice Initiative (ESJI), the idea behind ESJ is to eliminate long-standing and persistent inequities and social injustices within King County by applying principles of equity and social justice in the County’s actions, decisions, and policies. In October 2010, the King County Council adopted legislation on equity that establishes definitions and directs implementation steps related to achievement of the “fair and just” principle of the King County Strategic Plan (KCSP).

“Advancing equity and social justice is on the forefront of how King County does business,” said CouncilmemberLarry Phillips. “Since launching the Equity and Social Justice Initiative five years ago, we’ve continued to set goals and measure outcomes to ensure we’re gaining ground in the effort to improve the quality of life for all people in King County.”

“Everyone deserves a fair opportunity,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “I am happy to support this ordinance and continue King County’s long commitment to serving all citizens of our County.”

“King County continues to be a leader ensuring justice for all its residents. This work plan will help us to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our very diverse constituents,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott.

“I am proud to support the 2013 Equity and Social Justice work plan,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski. “This plan will continue to guide the County Council in working towards fairness and opportunity for all of King County’s citizens.”

The 2013 work plan was developed through the work of the Council’s Legislative Branch ESJ Team. This team, comprised of representatives from offices, agencies and staff within the Legislative Branch, promotes equity and social justice efforts specifically within the Legislative Branch

Today’s adopted motion build’s on the Council’s 2012 ESJ work plan and its goals of increasing awareness of ESJ impacts of county actions internally and with the public, expanding access to county information to underserved populations, and increased opportunities to interact with the Council. The 2013 work plan focuses on three specific objectives:

• Considering equity impacts in all decision-making by developing a structured process to review and evaluate equity impacts of Executive’s proposed 2014 Budget. The plan also calls for supporting emerging efforts of the Inter-Branch Equity and Social Justice Team in health care reform.

• Building community trust and capacity through improved customer service and robust civic engagement. With the goal of building capacity to engage all communities in a manner that fosters trust across race, gender, geographic and class lines. It supports creating inclusive and accessible public processes and using resources such as King County TV to broadcast ESJ events to engage and educate the community.

• Promote fairness and opportunity in County government practices. The plan calls on the Council to use internal communications/coordination to raise awareness and visibility of ESJ in communications throughout the legislative branch.

The proposed work plan acknowledges that as ESJ efforts move forward, it should be done consistently with the direction provided by the Council-adopted County Strategic Plan. This could include looking at the big picture across departments and considering County ESJ impacts from a regional perspective.




King County Equity and Social Justice
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