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City of Marion and Marion racial equity group respond to diversity survey results

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MARION, Iowa (KWWL) -- The city of Marion has released the results of the Community Equity and Inclusion survey, conducted by Polco.

The survey asked participants to rate the community on a variety of factors including making residents feel welcome.

  • "Providing a safe and secure environment for residents of all backgrounds," Marion was rated "excellent" by 47% of respondents
  • "Attracting people from diverse backgrounds," Marion was rated "poor" by 22% of respondents

Marion city manager, Lon Pluckhahn says this survey is a starting point, and they need to find the reasoning behind the data.

"The next step for us is to really start to gather more specific feedback from the community about what's the story behind why someone might feel like they're not welcome here," Pluckhahn said.

Around 400 people participated in the survey out of Marion's population of approximately 40,000, and eighty-six percent of respondents were white. While that may align with the demographics of the town, the Marion Alliance for Racial Equity (M.A.R.E.) hopes to reach more minorities.

"We need to do a better job of making sure we're targeting the people who we want to inform the decisions, those are people of color," Janessa Carr, a co-founder of M.A.R.E. said.

In the Community Equity Task Force meeting held Jan. 14, the group discussed hosting listening sessions with the goal to hear personal stories from the community.

"My biggest hope is that we would have some sort of a town hall discussion or a listening tour where... people of color would get the opportunity to come and talk about their experiences," said Carr.

Carr hopes in five years more people of color will hold local government offices, be more welcomed at city events and schools will take more initiatives towards equity.

The goal of the next Community Equity Task Force meeting, in February, is to draft a schedule of when the community forums could be held. Click here to see the full results of the survey.

M.A.R.E. is looking for more people to join them in their efforts. Those interested can join their Facebook group.

Kennedy DeRaedt

Photojournalist

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