Hillsborough Commissioners approve creating a diversity committee

Commissioner Mark Sharpe called the idea proposed by Beckner "fantastic," but said he worried about "siloing individuals." He also said that there should be a category for the religious community, but he got no other commissioner to back him on that idea. Beckner suggested that could fall under the "At-Large" seat.

However Beckner did say he would add new categories based on the input of Commissioner Victor Crist, who said that there should be categories for Southern and Northern Europeans and for those representing the Caribbean community. But he did not accept Crist's request to break up the Middle East representative into two categories. Crist said that there were two distinct cultures from that region, Muslims and Jews.

Commissioner Sandy Murman said she thought the issue was an important step, but asked what was the rush? She suggested that the county should let interested citizens complete applications to sit on the council and see how that evolved.

She also asked, "What is this group going to do?"

Beckner said it was all about beginning community dialogue.

According to his official proposal, those chosen to sit on this council would:

Serve as ambassadors to facilitate communication between Hillsborough County government and diverse populations throughout the County.

Serve as an Advisory Council to the County Commission and County staff on issues related to diversity affecting County government.

Develop programs and activities to promote a better understanding of diverse populations and issues in Hillsborough County.

County Administrator Mike Merrill said there would no additional costs to create the council.

  • Kevin Beckner

Hillsborough County is a richly diverse community, and becoming more so by the day. That's why Commissioner Kevin Beckner says he has spent the past six months working with county staff to create what is being called a Diversity Advisory Council, a proposal that the Board of County Commission approved of unanimously on Thursday.

Beckner said such a committee is needed to ensure that the diverse needs and ideas of county are identified and communicated. His original proposal called for county residents representing the following categories be placed on this council:

African American
At-Large (Identification with a specific category is not required)
Far East Asian
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender
Indian Asian
Middle Eastern
Native American
People with Disabilities

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