August 10, 2011
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach renewed his pledge Wednesday to make the city government work force more diverse.
But Bach, who has been in office two months, told about 85 people at the first-ever Latino Community Luncheon that he has more pressing issues to attend to first.
“I’ve got some emergencies right now that I didn’t expect,” including an investigation into allegations of financial misdeeds at the city before taking office, Bach said. The luncheon was held at the Crowne Plaza hotel.
“We will move from the emergency to the urgent, and diversity in city government will be at that level,” he said.
Bach said he didn’t have a specific plan but that he had ideas, such as engaging young people as early as middle school, holding job or “interest” fairs, and encouraging people to look at the city government for career opportunities.
“It starts with a philosophy and a mindset that I hope I instill,” the mayor said.
“I don’t believe in quotas. I don’t believe in pressure tactics. I believe in a level playing field,” Bach added. “It starts with believing that we are one community and that we want our city government to be reflective of our community.”
Bach has already started gathering information about the existing work force. He said he requested a report about the makeup of each department.
“I want to understand, how many Hispanics do we have in our city government? At what levels? How many African Americans? How many Asians?” he said. “How many gays and lesbians? I don’t even know if we can track that.”
Sue Stohlmann, a coordinator at the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum, which works to foster an understanding of diversity, asked the mayor whether he planned to bring back a diversity specialist and other efforts to monitor and promote diversity in the city.
“The diversity team sort of disintegrated as we lost people from the HR department. The diversity position was eliminated 10 years ago,” she said.
Stohlmann said diversity should be among the mayor’s top priorities.
“If you’re planning to rebuild your city, you need to include the diverse populations that are within the city, and the only way to be accountable for that is to have a focus on it,” she said.