Does ethnic diversity really matter?

   Fulfilling Martin Luther King's dream, we have begun to enter an era where the color of skin is used  less in pre-judging a person's ideas, values, and priorities.   BUT because our social connections are still very ethnically exclusive it is necessary that we continue to seek out those from all ethnic groups to participate in religious, business, and government organizations.
   It is every individuals prerogative through the voting process to indicate whether a candidate shares their ideas, values, and priorities.
   There was a time when African Americans could only own or rent homes on the near south east side of our city.  For many years now African Americans have bought and rented homes throughout the city. 
   There are many talented African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American people who could serve in elected office who live in each of the three wards of our city. 
   When Ellen James, an African American woman,  ran for the Community College's governing board she was the top vote getter in the first ward! 
  Before 1984. many people in Grand Rapids said that a person of color could only win elective office after a reshaping of the wards.  They said that only when the ward was overwhelmingly populated by people of color could a person of color be elected.  Since 1984 we have proved many times that when we can find and support a candidate ( regardless of color ) who is the best qualified candidate they will win election regardless of the ethnicity of the population in the ward.
  We have many people of color with the experience, talent, potential support, and opportunity to win in three wards and the office of Mayor this year.
I believe that persons of color can, have, and do represent the interests of the entire community in Grand Rapids elective offices.
With a lack of elected ethnic minorities in office,  elected ethnic majority people should carefully listen to all individuals and groups community about concerns, and facilitate a response from government. They should honestly communicated with all individuals and groups about government plans and seek ideas, advice, and participation in decision making.  They should partner with all groups and individuals to find effective ways to achieve community goals for neighborhood improvement in partnership with government.  They should always looked for and used opportunities to encourage leadership recruitment and development in our community.

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