I'm proud to represent Tigard at regional and national events, including joining fellow Portland-area mayors at the Oregon State Capitol and attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting.
My interactions with mayors from across the country has strengthened my belief that Tigard must continue efforts to become a vibrant, diverse, and livable community.
I was particularly affected as I listened to the City of Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway recount his response to overhearing someone describe his city as “Hillsburrito.”
Listening to Mayor Callaway speak about his experience came at an opportune time. This month, our city staff received the following email from a community member:
Why are you recruiting for bilingual Spanish speaking person? Why would you give a job to non-speaking English person instead of a citizen who needs a job and speaks English? Why not just move city offices to Mexico?
I am sharing this email in a public forum because I want it to be perfectly clear that Tigard is a community for everyone. We will stand up to hurtful speech and reinforce our efforts to attract a workforce that is representative of our community and our nation.
I invite those who struggle to understand the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Tigard to consider these facts:
- Nearly one-fifth of our community speaks a language other than English, the most common of which is Spanish. The state of Oregon has no official language. Neither does the United States.
- Our responsibility is to communicate and welcome all community members so that we can serve our constituency. This includes having bilingual staff and interpretation services to assist customers with their water bills, to report a crime, find a book, or help them understand and/or participate in city projects.
- We cannot and will not deny rights, benefits or services to our neighbors, friends or community members because of a language barrier.
- Having a culturally and linguistically diverse workforce makes us stronger and promotes innovation and positive change.
- Our Latinx community—young, diverse and growing every year—is an essential part of our collective community.
I believe Tate Brunswick, the owner of Versus Board Games, speaks for the Tigard community in embracing the unique qualities and backgrounds of all individuals. “Making my store welcoming to everyone is one of my main goals. I strive personally to treat everyone equally as soon as they walk in the door. Whether they are wearing a Star Wars hoodie, a suit, a dress or a kilt, I try not to assume anything about them. I just ask how they are and what games they’re interested in.”
Jason Snider, Mayor