By Shereen Siewert
City officials in Wausau are considering partnering with Marathon County on its “A Community for All” anti-hate policy, while a petition against the resolution continues to circulate.
The draft resolution, which will go before the Marathon County Board later this month, has undergone several changes since its inception but the premise remains the same . The resolution aims to ensure that Marathon County is an “open, inclusive, and diverse place to live and work and to achieve racial and ethnic equity to foster cross-cultural understanding and advocate for minority populations throughout Marathon County.”
Marathon County Dist. 19 Representative Yee Leng Xiong said the Marathon County Diversity Affairs Commissions is now in the process of making final adjustments and changes to the resolution based on the suggestions from county supervisors.
“We have been contacted by several organizations who have expressed interest in wanting to participate in the discussions, so I have been meeting with them to hear their suggestions,” Xiong said. “Once that is completed, we will put those suggestions into the resolution and will bring the resolution back to the Executive Committee, and ultimately the full County Board.”
That could happen in late April or early May, Xiong said.
Not everyone is happy about the resolution, including Jack Hoogendyk, a former Marathon County Board member who is the newly-elected chair of the Republican Party of Marathon County. Hoogendyk, who could not be reached by email for comment on Monday, sent a Feb. 17 email circulating a petition that opposes the idea and calls the resolution “counterproductive and divisive.”
As of March 8, 218 people have signed the petition, which accuses the Board of “pushing the dangerous socialist and marxist ideologies of systemic racism and equal outcomes” with the resolution.
“The ‘A Community for All’ resolution, with clauses like ‘disparity of opportunity and systemic inequality exist across our…community’ only serve to cause division and frankly, it just isn’t true,” Hoogendyk wrote in his email.
Wausau’s Liberation and Freedom Committee listed the item on the agenda for possible action during the group’s March 8 meeting. Last month, the group identified the issue as one that aligns with the committee’s mission and goals. Member LaTanya Campbell, during the Feb. 1 meeting, said she would like to the see the city committee partner with the Marathon County Diversity Affairs commission on getting the resolution passed.
The Liberation and Freedom Committee is a volunteer committee established to “promote an environment that accepts, celebrates, and appreciates diversity within the community by proactively identifying areas of discrimination, providing education, communication, and recommendations to the city council and mayor of the city of Wausau,” according to city documents.
Despite the controversy among some residents, Xiong said the idea is catching on.
“We have been contacted by several other counties and municipalities who has expressed an interest in passing resolutions similar to ours and utilizing the data that we have gathered,” Xiong said. “We are excited to be generating this type of excitement activity statewide.”