Reader argues for Renton’s inclusivity
With all my respect, I am responding to the letter from Sophia Vackimes published last Friday that questions the multicultural goals of the city of Renton. I disagree with her conclusions, and her statements show a complete lack of awareness of the depth of the programs and institutional efforts that have been in place for years in Renton to dramatically address equity and inclusion.
I have lived in Renton for 40 years and been a business owner in this community since 1979. I have also served on the Mayor’s Inclusion Task Force ever since it was formed in 2008. The letter mentions translations and bilingual staff as the way to serve people of color. The city’s commitment to equity has gone way beyond that.
We have made inclusion and equity our priority and the way of doing business in Renton. The city has completely revised its hiring practices to remove implicit bias; they offer special swim hours for our Muslim population at the Henry Moses Aquatic Center; and recently they engaged members from different ethnic communities to participate in their long-term parks planning process.
The Mayor’s Inclusion Task Force is a network of community leaders representing various ethnic, cultural and diverse groups who are liaisons between the communities they represent and the city. In addition, the city has integrated the importance of diversity into all its programs and services. And yes—the city absolutely understands the importance of language translations and communications.
There are about 20 city employees who are bi-lingual and available to translate as needed. Every employee is trained and has access to the Language Line. Contrary to the statement in the letter on whether it is used at all–it is used and tracked. The city’s website offers drop-down language translation capabilities, materials are translated, interpreters are called for public meetings. Departments such as the Police Department and the Municipal Court offer critical translation services on a regular basis.
The members of the Inclusion Task Force have been working hand in hand with the city for years to address key issues and represent the needs of the community. Please come and attend Renton’s Multicultural Festival on Sept. 13 and 14 to get a real taste of how we work together and celebrate and meet other members of the task force.
Deacon Ted Rodriguez