Editorials

These African Americans just made history in Raytown, Blue Springs. What took so long?

Damon Hodges became the first African-American city administrator in Raytown this month. Tracey Chappell-Vick became the first African-American prosecuting attorney in Blue Springs the same day.

Hodges and Chappell-Vick both appear highly qualified for the positions. And their appointments are visible steps in the right direction to increase diversity in local government. A mix of talent, experience and ethnic backgrounds leads to better ideas, discussions and decisions.

Both appointments also reflect the rapidly changing demographics in these communities. The African-American population in Raytown grew from 11.74 percent in 2000 to nearly 32 percent in 2017. Last year, African Americans represented 8 percent of the population in Blue Springs, up from less than 3 percent 18 years ago.

City government should look like the city itself to ensure every citizen is represented.

In a state where no African American has ever held statewide office, some of the barriers are beginning to crumble at the municipal level. Minority representation in leadership positions has to start somewhere.

Diversity, inclusion and equity are buzzwords that mean nothing without action. Raytown and Blue Springs officials are making commendable progress. The question for those municipalities and others: What took so long?

  Comments