Editorial: Arlington Heights makes a meaningful move toward diversity
The Arlington Heights village board took an important step this week toward achieving a goal that every suburban community should embrace -- making local government look more like our communities.
The growing diversity of the suburbs is well documented and can be traced to long before two decades ago when the Daily Herald produced several annual weeklong series under the heading of Suburban Mosaic with in-depth looks at diverse cultures helping to bring new dimensions to the quality of life in our region.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the makeup of leadership roles and public service professions in the suburbs hasn't kept pace. The reasons for that are complex and certainly open to discussion, but the more urgent objective should be to improve the situation.
Arlington Heights made progress in that direction Tuesday when the village board adopted a recommendation from Village Manager Randy Recklaus to hire a consulting firm to develop recommendations within two months for ways to build more equity, diversity and inclusion in local government and public service operations.
Village officials emphasized that they want to foster ideas that will be successful and constructive.
Mayor Tom Hayes said. "Not only do we want to do it, but we want to do it right," and Trustee Jim Tinaglia stressed that " This is marathon ,,. not a sprint race."
This focus on success is certainly admirable, but the village also must take care not to let perfection become an excuse for delay. Officials seem to recognize that in setting a timetable calling for Chicago-based The Kaleidoscope Group to deliver recommendations within a reasonably short time frame -- and hopefully those recommendations will come with timetables and measurable goals that similarly demonstrate a commitment not just to the notion of diversity in the ranks of parks, police, fire and other civic operations but to the imminent reality of it.
Kaleidoscope's scope of work will include the obvious steps of interviewing village officials and surveying the local government's workforce. T
hen, it adds the important step of conducting focus groups and community listening sessions to involve the community in the outcome. We look forward to seeing residents from all walks of life participating and contributing to a dynamic strategy that will broaden and strengthen the community.
John Allen Boryk, a member of a group called Bridging the Black and White Divide that has been promoting suburban diversity for years, praised Arlington Heights leaders for its show of commitment to that goal. He urged other suburbs to consider similar steps. We do, too.