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Recently, Marathon County’s Diversity Affairs Commission, which exists to ensure that Marathon County is an open, inclusive, and diverse place to live and work, put forth a Resolution to the County Board of Supervisors that sought to proclaim Marathon County as “A Community For All”. The Board elected not to move forward with approving the Resolution, citing concerns from some citizens who were against it. As such, I feel compelled to write in support of the Resolution and to share my thoughts with my community. A copy of this letter was also sent to the Board of Supervisors.
First, the effects of approving this Resolution and proactively heading its call would have a positive ripple effect for Marathon County and its economy. By affirming that our county is a place for all and committing to preserve the rights and freedoms of its residents, we can support a healthier, stronger, more diverse and competitive workforce. A healthier workforce increases purchasing power, which stimulates the economy, which generates a potential higher tax base, which can be used to adequately support needed government services. All of this momentum also creates a more attractive place to live, work, and visit, which further drives a robust, healthy economy.
In addition to making economic sense, supporting and approving this Resolution is also the ethical choice. I choose to believe that the majority of the residents in Marathon County believe in opportunity and dignity for all. I believe that we want to live in a welcoming community that is safe and accessible for everyone, where each individual is celebrated and valued. I believe we want to invest in a community that supports, empowers, and respects one another. I believe we want our local leaders and decision makers to help us address barriers and disparities that make it harder to meet basic needs, advance well being, and maintain a positive quality of life. I have to believe we all want what is best for each other, regardless of our race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical or mental capabilities, and/or religious beliefs. This is the community I want to live in and invest in. This is the kind of community we all deserve.
To thrive as a community, we must first understand how we can best meet the needs of those who live here – and that must apply to everyone who lives here. In order to keep Marathon County economically competitive, politically strong, and socially healthy, we must work to promote and harness the capacity, resilience, and talent of our community; and we cannot do that without first celebrating its diversity, acknowledging its disparities, and committing to addressing equity gaps. This is not a radical vision. It is also not a political issue – it is one of humanity.
Working toward fairness, openness, and inclusion for all, benefits us all. It is not enough to say that issues of discrimination, violence, intolerance, exclusion, and under representation do not effect our County. We are all human, we are all flawed, we must all do better. We have a shared fate in Marathon County, and when everyone living and working here has the opportunity to achieve their full potential, we are a more prosperous and healthy community.
I encourage you to learn more about the goals of the Diversity Affairs Commission, the intent behind the proposed Resolution and its potential impact, and to share your thoughts with the Board of Supervisors.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Ashley Bores, Wausau