Homer City Council considers resolution to be ‘safety net’ in changing political climate
The small city of Homer may soon join the ranks of cities throughout the U.S. making a formal stand against recent changes to refugee and immigration policies and the changing political climate.
At its regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 27, the Homer City Council will introduce a resolution stating its opposition to actions targeting specific minority groups based on their religion, cultural or racial heritage and sexual identity or orientation, aiming instead to be “a safety net for the most vulnerable members of and visitors to our community.”
The resolution was drafted by three of the city council’s six members: Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds.
According to Aderhold, a group of locals brought the idea forward to her and others, and Reynolds, who was drafting her own version separately, joined them in creating Resolution 17-019.
“Homer is predominantly a welcoming, accepting, and tolerant city. We are a community of diverse viewpoints and people are not afraid to share them. However, I believe the current political climate has rattled folks on all sides,” Aderhold said in an email, emphasizing that the resolution is for all groups facing discrimination, including women. “While I cannot speak for the group, I believe they felt that rhetoric from the presidential campaign was leading to a decline in civility and that presidential actions since the inauguration have led to reduced tolerance amongst our citizens, both locally and nationally.”
Aderhold noted that some examples of “reduced tolerance” in Homer include “vandalism of the burning basket and trucks rolling coal on bicyclists and pedestrians.”
The resolution states that, if passed, the city of Homer will “resist any and all efforts to profile vulnerable populations.” It did note that city officials would cooperate with federal agencies detaining undocumented immigrants, but “when court-issued federal warrants are delivered.”
Regardless of the legal residency status of visitors or residents, the resolution’s authors placed clear emphasis on tolerance and a welcoming spirit in Homer.
“The City of Homer calls on all its citizens to stand against intolerance and resist expressions of hate toward any members of the community, and thus to set an example for the rest of the nation, demonstrating that Homer residents and Alaskans adhere to the principle of live-and-let-live,” the resolution concluded.
“We need to treat each other with respect, tolerance, and civility,” Aderhold said. “While it was not my intent, the resolution has highlighted a strong divide in our community, and I hope we can begin a community conversation that will heal the rift and result in greater understanding of the reasoning for our divergent views.”
In an email, Reynolds admitted that she was an undocumented resident for four years in the 90s, but has since become a citizen.
“I would like to encourage empathy for all our community members, particularly the most vulnerable as they have the most to overcome in order to flourish,” Reynolds wrote. “To those who feel fearful of ‘illegals’ or don’t understand the challenges faced by minority populations I would say, Equality can feel like oppression, but it’s not. What you’re feeling is just the discomfort of losing a little bit of your privilege.”
The city council meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6 p.m., following a work session and committee of the whole meeting. The full text of the resolution can be read online at the council’s website.
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