What City Leaders Have to Say About Diversity

November 3, 2017 - (4 min read)

This is a guest post by Janelle Watson, NLC’s Senior Associate for Constituency Group Programs.

The National League of Cities celebrates the growing diversity of America’s cities and towns. That’s why NLC and its Constituency Groups created the City Cultural Diversity Awards: to recognize the communities across the country that are creating inclusive environments for of their residents.

Diversity and inclusion are a crucial issue for city leaders. NLC’s 2017 State of the Cities Report found that issues of demographicsincluding: diversity, youth, immigration and seniorswere among the top 10 priorities mayors outlined in their State of the Cities address. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“For most of our history, we kept many runners sidelined from democracy’s relay race. To our perpetual damage and shame, our relay was run with generations of great Americans barred from the main track: People of color. Women. Native Americans. Immigrants. People of different faiths or no faith. LGBTQ+. People with disabilities.”
—Mayor John Hamilton, Bloomington, Indiana


“While we welcome a new government, we also welcome all new citizens of the city and of the Illinois Valley. Diverse pressures will cause Oregon to grow over the next fifty years and likely beyond. Cave Junction likewise will grow and we have already seen an influx of newcomers from throughout the country and the world. We welcome this—we welcome all who come to work hard and make a way for themselves.”
—Mayor Daniel Dalegowski, Cave Junction, Oregon 

“We must strengthen our commitment to work together to advance the values that define our community: social justice, human rights, and environmental responsibility. These issues must be part of every decision we make: how we grow, the impact of new industry and new jobs, and how we, every day as individuals and as a community, stand for equality, fairness, respect and dignity for all of our citizens. Quiero que Eugene sea una ciudad donde todos serán bienvenidos. I want Eugene to be a city where everyone feels welcome.”
—Mayor Lucy Vinis, Eugene, Oregon 

“We are a more diverse community than ever before. Our city of over 850,000 is made up of more than 327,000 people of color… 102,000 foreign-born residents… 43,000 veterans… and 34,000 LGBTQ residents. Some project the region will grow to three million by 2050, so we can expect our diversity will continue to serve as a source of strength for our community.”
—Mayor Andrew Ginther, Columbus, Ohio

“One of our city’s greatest strengths is our diversity. We are truly a reflection of America. And that is an amazing thing. Last year, WalletHub rated Elk Grove the 7th most racially and ethnically diverse city in the country and just last month, Niche.com ranked the Elk Grove Unified School District the 2nd most diverse school district in the country.”
—Mayor Steve Ly, Elk Grove, California 

“No matter your physical abilities, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, racial or cultural ethnicity – if you are here to be part of our community and to help make Scottsdale even better, then Scottsdale welcomes you.”
—Mayor Jim Lane, Scottsdale, Arizona

“We now have a variety of cultures and languages with residents from throughout the US, South America, Europe, Eastern Europe, Canada, and the Middle East. Whether our residents live full time or part time, this cultural diversity is one of the most prominent and defining features of our City’s identity.”
—Mayor Gary “Bud” Scholl, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

The Welcoming Fayetteville Plan will ensure that intentional efforts are made to further the City’s support of its diverse community. We will develop and work on adoption of a plan that improves equitable services and access for Fayetteville citizens.
—Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Fayetteville, Arkansas

NLC is now accepting applications for the City Cultural Diversity Awards. Share the work that your city is doing create an inclusive and accessible community for all! Applications close December 20, 2018.

Jannelle1_ready.jpgAbout the Author: Janelle Watson is NLC’s Senior Associate for Constituency Group Programs.