The Plymouth City Council voted 6-1 this week to add a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator to the city staff, a move that the single opposing council member argued is "politically divisive."
"Are we admitting that the city of Plymouth is not [already] welcoming?" said the opposing member, Council Member James Prom. "You go down this line, where do you end up? You end up like Minneapolis. Like Seattle, San Francisco. It's going in a direction that's not helpful."
Others on the council argued that the staff position, and diversity efforts in general, were neither partisan nor divisive.
"I think it's a matter of dignity and respect for all people," said Council Member Ned Carroll.
Mayor Jeffry Wosje said he was astonished to hear that a newcomer to the city, a Black man, had called the Police Department to let them know he was living in his neighborhood. "That never would have dawned on me" as necessary, Wosje said.
In a public hearing before the council's discussion, six residents spoke, all in favor of increasing the city's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
"I've lost count of how many times that I've been told to go back to my country," said Milind Sohoni, who is originally from India but has lived in the United States since 1983. His children, born here, were teased in school, he said.
Some council members expressed reservations about the diversity coordinator's position — that the job isn't well-defined, that the salary of about $101,000 is too high — but ultimately voted in favor of the hire.
Later in the meeting, however, the council voted 4-3 against forming a city diversity, equity and inclusion committee, amid disagreement and uncertainty about what the group would do.
Katy Read • 612-673-4583