‘A diverse cross section of people’: Fairfield Selectmen confirm racial equity task force members
FAIRFIELD — The town’s task force on racial injustice and inequity can now get to work after the Board of Selectmen confirmed a slate of appointees in its Monday meeting.
First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said the members represented a diverse cross-section of the community, adding she hoped the task force would have the tough discussion necessary to move the town forward in a positive direction.
“I’m looking for the task force to first, have a lot of different dialogues — with law enforcement, with our school administrators... and with our community,” Kupchick said. “(Then the task force) will come with a list of recommendations.”
Kupchick created the task force in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Floyd, a Black man, died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes in May. Floyd’s death sparked thousands of protests over police brutality and racial inequality across the country, including demonstrations in Fairfield.
In June, Kupchick said it was time for the town to have a dialogue about race. She tasked Selectwoman Nancy Lefkowitz with co-chairing and creating the task force.
With Lefkowitz and resident Gina Ludlow already confirmed as co-chairs, the BOS unanimously approved the appointments of Steven Bogan, Douglas Bunnell, Inni Dhingra, Karen Lynch, Sonja Narcisse, Alexandra Ocampo, Tameisha Powell-Dunmore, Jason Sherrod and Sandra Tallman.
Leftkowitz said she and Ludlow had interviewed dozens of qualified, passionate candidates from diverse backgrounds and points of view before coming to making the recommendations to Kupchick.
“Where we were all aligned, unilaterally, is the need for this kind of task force and to have some difficult discussions that we know lie ahead,” she said. “We had the beginnings of some very meaningful discussions and, ultimately, landed with this group of nine people.”
Lefkowitz said the appointees all bring something important to the table. She also said that, without community buy-in, the task force would not be able to be effective.
“We look forward to working with anyone that’s interested,” she said, noting the meetings will be public.
Lefkowitz has previously said it would be important for the group to have an odd number of members to prevent a tie when it comes time to vote on recommendations. She also said the task force would be bipartisan, and made up of Republicans, Democrats, people not affiliated with a party and people of color.
The Board of Selectman unanimously approved the mission statement for the task force at a meeting last month.
“The goal is to enhance and improve Fairfield’s commitment (to) systematically fair and equal treatment of all town residents, businesses, workers (and) visitors, regardless of their race,” Kupchick said
In Monday’s meeting, newly appointed members expressed excitement about the upcoming work.
“I’m just looking forward to making some kind of meaningful change through discussions and listening, which is just important as anything else,” Tallman said.