City of Red Wing

Red Wing Receives Award for Racial Equality Efforts

Friday, July 14 2017 2:16 PM

Racial equality isn’t just a catch phrase in Red Wing; it’s a principal we’re actively incorporating into our decision-making processes. We’ve been working to create an organized, intentional way of approaching policy that puts matters of race in the forefront, not as an afterthought.  Our efforts are having a positive effect,  though the work is just beginning.

One step has been for Red Wing to join GARE, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. GARE teams from across the state convene monthly to share ideas, learn how issues of race are impacting each of our communities and state, and how each of our local governments can ensure our communities are fair to all.  Red Wing is the smallest government entity of the twelve represented at the GARE meetings, though the issues of racial equity in large cities are mirrored in our smaller one as well.

Did you know one in ten residents of Red Wing is a person of color? Did you know one in five of our local school students are children of color?  Did you know that the wealth gap between whites and non-whites is greater in Minnesota than in any other state of our nation?  In Red Wing, we’re going to do all we can on the local level to help remedy that disparity.

In May, City Council approved Red Wing’s Racial Equity Plan that defines the city’s goals and measures outcomes.  Our Racial Equity Statement expresses the intent and mission.. And, we’re working to incorporate  key questions that decision-makers must consider when creating policy including:

  • What are the impacts of this decision?

  • Who will benefit and who will be burdened by this decision?

  • Are there strategies to lessen any negative and/or unintended consequences?

Viewing city planning through this lens is changing the way we consider everything from sidewalk maintenance to the way we hold public meetings, getting us farther along the path towards structural racial equity. “Legal racism has been outlawed but structural racism is still with us in many forms,” Mayor Dowsestated after attending one of Red Wing’s racial equity trainings. . . “I’ve learned to understand structural racism and to see it.  It’s one of the things we can pay attention to and remedy.” 

Recently, Red Wing was honored as one of twelve communities awarded the President’s Award through the League of Minnesota Cities for efforts toward eliminating racial disparities. GARE team members who’ve been part of the work include Michelle Leise, Coordinator of Live Healthy Red Wing, Dean Chamberlain, City Engineer, Shawn Blaney, Deputy Director of Public Works, Scott Kochkendorfer, Training Police Officer at the Red Wing Police Department, and Mark Ryan, Human Rights Commissioner. The GARE team will be expanding later this year and will continue working toward reaching the Plan’s goals. For more information, contact Michelle Leise at

The League of Minnesota Cities President’s award provides the opportunity for the outgoing President, at his or her discretion, to recognize the efforts of an individual, group, or organization that has helped to achieve a current League goal or to advance the League’s overall mission to promote excellence in local government through effective advocacy, expert analysis, and trusted guidance for all Minnesota cities.  For 2017, Outgoing President Rhonda Pownell, Mayor of Northfield, extended the award to the 12 local government jurisdictions that made up the 2016 race equity cohort.  The cohort work was as a cooperative effort of the League and its partner, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity.

 Those jurisdictions are Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Duluth, Hopkins, Mankato, Maplewood, Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, Red Wing, St. Louis Park, and Woodbury.  The award was presented as a part of the League’s annual business meeting held during the annual conference on Thursday, June 15th, in Rochester.  Pownell noted that racial equity had been one of the major themes of her Presidency.  She commended the award recipients for their commitment and pioneering work to achieving racial equity in the policies, practices and procedures of their jurisdictions. - Kevin Frazell, League of MN Cities

 Shown in the picture from left to right are:

Curt Boganey, City Manager, Brooklyn Center

Molly Cummings, Mayor, Hopkins

Mary Giuliani Stephens, Mayor, Woodbury

Clarence Anthony, Executive Director, National League of Cities

Nora Slawik, Mayor, Maplewood

Josie Shardlow, Community Engagement Coordinator, Brooklyn Park

Sean Dowse, Mayor, Red Wing

Mike Funk, Assistant City Manager, Maplewood

Rhonda Pownell, President, League of Minnesota Cities

Jake Spano, Mayor, St. Louis Park

Gordon Goodwin, Midwest Regional Project Director, GARE

Pat Hentges, City Manager, Mankato

Eric Anderson, Mayor, Mankato

Alison Zelms, Deputy City Manager, Mankato

Athelgra Williams, Community Outreach and Access Coordinator, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

Elizabeth Tolzmann, Assistant City Manager, Bloomington

Elizabeth Glidden, Councilmember, Minneapolis

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