The New Castle Town Board last week approved to convert the Council on Race and Equity (CRE) to a permanent town committee nearly a year after the body was created.
Under the plan, the committee, which will be formally known as the New Castle Committee on Race and Equity, will have 10 members and two co-chairs along with auxiliary volunteers. The CRE was comprised of six working groups with about 115 community volunteers after its creation last June.
Supervisor Ivy Pool said the council made an important contribution at a critical time, providing the town with an extensive set of recommendations over the past year. The council would benefit by having the structure and support that an official town committee typically enjoys, she said.
“The CRE has obviously done valuable work and we have seen and benefitted from the results of their work to date, and we also recognize that this group of volunteers has been called upon to do the heavy lifting for our community on a variety of different committees and organizations, particularly dedicated to try and solve the race crisis that we’ve been facing over the course of the past year,” Pool said.
The council was created in the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd killing, but the need for it was heightened after a racist TikTok video created by several Horace Greeley High School students circulated in the community.
Pool read a statement at last week’s Town Board meeting from the CRE’s co-chairs, Zabeen Mirza and Nichelle Maynard-Elliott, saying their charge was to create a set of recommendations to make the town a more equitable and inclusive community for all residents.
They also thanked the members of the volunteer council who put in the time to make New Castle a more accepting place for everyone.
“These volunteers have been staunch allies – listening, learning, and speaking up for those who could not,” the statement read in part. “They have set an example for all of us to follow in what it means to be allies and what it means to truly strive for equity in this community and in this world.”
Councilwoman Lisa Katz said the council has already made an impact.
“The CRE is just incredible and the work that they’ve done in the short amount of time that they’ve been the council is phenomenal, and I can’t wait to see it move forward,” Katz said.
Councilwoman Lori Morton called the CRE “a spectacular model for collaboration” and was impressed how it worked with other boards and commissions in town to address various inequities, help create programming and partner with other groups on social justice issues.
The outgoing leadership will serve as a transition team. Any town residents interested in serving on the Committee on Race and Equity, can send a letter of interest to newcastleCRE@gmail.com by May 28.
Terms of its members will be divided between two and three years to limit excessive turnover at one time, said Town Administrator Jill Shapiro.