City Council discusses deadline to fill commission on racial conciliation vacancies

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 11:10 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2022 at 11:24 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston City Council is working to fill vacant seats on a commission created to make sure city policies are equitable.

For the first time since it was created four months ago, Charleston’s Human Affairs and Racial Conciliation Commission held a meeting, even with some of its seats still unfilled.

During Tuesday’s Charleston City Council meeting, council members discussed possibly adding a two-week time frame for appointments to be made to newly-created commissions to cut down on delays.

Councilmember Peter Shahid suggested that if people aren’t appointed within those two weeks, it could be up to the mayor to ensure seats on commissions are filled.

“We don’t want the commissions to not be able to meet and do its job because we’re waiting for councilmembers to make the appointments,” Shahid said.

The commission was created in February following a recommendation from a special commission to address equity in the city.

Councilmember Jason Sakran, the commission’s interim chair, says they have three months to recommend citywide policy changes.

“HARCC has like 90 days to come back with some initial recommendations, so again, our initial meeting was last week,” Sakran said. “The reason it took so long was it’s really process-oriented. We’re not trying to rush this process, but we do want to be moving with urgency.”

Sakran said the commission will be tasked with looking at the city’s involvement to ensure its policies are equitable in terms of race, sexual orientation and gender.

“Everything the City of Charleston gets involved with in terms of our government work, in terms of economic, criminal justice and really looking at everything the city is involved with and touches upon, looking at that through an equity lens to determine if in fact some of our policies are equitable,” Sakran said.

He added that the commission is made up of representatives from across all of Charleston’s neighborhoods.

While the commission is not yet filled, Sakran said he hopes the members will be able to block outside noise and keep focused on the task at hand.

“For some, we’re going to be moving too fast. For others, we’re going to be moving too slow,” Sakran said, “I really told them, ‘Let’s stay focused on our mission,’ which is working within the confines of this group. We certainly want to hear from constituents, but this is the group that’s going to be making those recommendations.”

Sakran said the commission will be meeting monthly and hopes they can get to work quickly while keeping the discussions civil.

However, no recommendations the commission brings forward will be implemented unless it are passed by city council.

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