Citing eight years of inactivity, the Anoka City Council is looking at the possibility of disbanding the city’s Human Rights Commission.
At a work session this week, the council directed staffers to either reactivate the commission or develop an ordinance to repeal the section of city code mandating the commission. It has not taken a vote on disbanding the commission.
Conversations about the dormant status of the commission started in March, when the council created an Arts and Culture Commission under the city’s park board. Some officials say it would be redundant to have both arts and human rights boards.
Supporters say now is the time to reinvest in the commission, not eliminate it. A petition is circulating online to preserve it.
According to the petition, “The commission probably needs a redesign, a new name, and passionate members from diverse backgrounds and that’s okay. But before it can be better, before it can make a difference, it needs to EXIST!”
Anoka established the Human Rights Commission in 2003, with 15 commissioners meeting on a regular basis. Over the years, membership and attendance declined.
The number of commissioners dropped to five in 2007, and two years later city code was amended to require the commission to meet only as needed. The last commission meeting was in 2012.
The terms of Commissioners Sue Dilcher, Steve Hoffman and Roxy Orcutt end in December, while Commissioner Paula Moncrief’s term expires December 2021. There is one vacancy on the board.