Newberg, regional cities to join Hispanic support network
Newberg and a number of other cities in the Willamette Valley are in the early stages of forming a "regional group" to better support, train and reach out to Hispanic city government workers.
The goal is to support and recruit workers while providing training, leadership development and other services that will in turn assist the cities in outreach to the Hispanic communities.
"We are in the process of starting this up," Newberg City Manager Dan Weinheimer said. "The Local Government Hispanic Network is a national group that is focused on the professional development of Hispanic and Latinx local government administrators. We were approached by them to form a regional group in the broader Willamette Valley region that would fulfill some of their objectives."
The conversation between Oregon city managers and the Local Government Hispanic Network was led by Lake Oswego City Manager Martha Bennett, with others like Weinheimer assisting in the effort. Weinheimer called it a win-win because the program can help the city better support its Hispanic and Latinx employees while improving community outreach.
"The idea is to better recruit and support folks who identify as Hispanic or Latinx," he said. "We want to improve our outreach and service to that community in Newberg, and through knowledge sharing I think we can accomplish that. The hope is we can continue to learn through this process and find ways to better serve that community.
"Looking at the foundation of the national organization, it has members throughout the country whose focus is training and development. From a local government lens, I feel like our organization can learn so much and improve our lens through which we view these issues. It makes it more clear to our staff and our community that we're serious about our outreach to the Latinx population."
Diversity, equity and inclusion is the lens through which the city of Newberg views many of its decisions lately, as it aims to renew that focus in the wake of lawsuits and controversies in recent years — chief among them the Gregg Patton case, where a Black man successfully sued the city for not hiring him in part due to his race. Newberg's Hispanic population is steadily growing and is the largest minority group in the city by a significant margin, so Weinheimer and others at the city recognize the importance of support and outreach.
Finding people who are interested in serving in city government who belong to minority groups is a focus of the city as well, and Weinheimer said he believes an added benefit of this regional support network will be the recruitment of such individuals. More information on the support network is on the way in the coming months.
"I definitely think we can be better in terms of recruitment and finding more people who are interested in serving in Newberg that come from that Hispanic or Latinx background," Weinheimer said. "That's a challenge throughout our region, and I'm hoping that connecting with people through this network will open up more avenues to do that."
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