The lack of diversity on Wilton Manors’ civic boards and community advisory committees is an issue the city is struggling to solve.
Commissioners belabored the lack of minority involvement at last week’s commission meeting as they appointed a new member to the planning and zoning board. Michael Siemer, a gay man and retired telephone company engineer from St. Louis, was voted to the board, replacing restaurateur Nick Berry, who had chaired the board.
“It’s troubling me a little bit about the lack of diversity that we have,” Commissioner Paul Rolli said. “We talk about attracting diverse candidates and what we’re going to do to get diversity on these boards and I’m not so sure we’ve done everything we can do to get some extra reach out and I think we really need to do that.”
City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson said the Community Affairs Advisory Board is working on making recommendations into different methods of outreach to constituency groups. Henderson said the board is planning to present the commission with its definition of diversity at the second meeting in November.
“Let’s go ahead and set up a protocol,” Commissioner Julie Carson said. “I am completely in favor of increasing diversity, making sure it is experiential, color, race, religion, sexuality, gender orientation, gender identity — all of the things that comprise our great city.”
Other notes from the Oct. 27 meeting include:
Michael Rajner, chairman of the charter review board, said the city’s election process is archaic and proposed ranked voting.
“Wilton Manors really needs to catch up with the times,” Rajner said. “The current process lends to bullet voting which I think is unethical and shady.”
A new three-year contract was unanimously approved with the Broward County Police Benevolent Association. Commissioner Gary Resnick called attention to the contract, bringing up the Defund The Police movement, which he said some in the community had vocalized out of popularity and not out of a sense of what is best for Wilton Manors. Resnick said the city does not need a citizen grievance board.
“No one in Wilton Manors complains about our police department,” said Resnick. “They think the service is first-rate and very professional and very responsive.”
The city also renewed its health care benefits contract with United Healthcare and is currently $160k in the hole. Carson asked for exploration into government reimbursements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.