In Our Opinion: Those fighting for racial equality should focus on county government

It’s a little ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that so much of the discussion about racial equality and inclusion on Whidbey Island in recent years has been centered on the city of Langley.

After all, it’s a progressive little city where people are involved in local government like no other community around. From large meetings over the inclusive city issue to a council vote this week to include an anti-racist and social equality goal in the comprehensive plan, residents have strong feelings about social justice and are willing to debate.

But those South Enders demanding meaningful change might be focusing on the wrong place.

Island County government has a far greater impact on people’s lives, especially the more vulnerable populations. Under the umbrella of county government is the law-and-justice system, elections office, tax collector, Public Health and a human services department that includes housing, behavioral health and veterans support.

County officials are currently struggling to bring equity to COVID-19 vaccinations; it’s an effort that is commendable and deserves more support from the community.

The coronavirus pandemic has spotlighted inequality in the county’s health care system. Recent studies show people of color in the county are disproportionately impacted by the virus while being less likely to be vaccinated.

Officials had acknowledged the problem previously but had been both slow and stymied when it comes to action — until recently. The commissioners created an inclusion advisory committee, which one of the commissioners stressed should have a membership that reflects diversity. The committee is supposed to begin meeting right away and help the county reach underrepresented communities with vaccinations.

The county is also holding a pop-up vaccine clinic at a local church at the request of the pastor and is working with an immigrant rights representative to share community-based information and set up a future strike team clinic.

While Langley still needs its watchdogs and gadflies, those concerned about social justice would be wise to turn their attention to Island County government, where strides are being made but more needs to be done.

More in Opinion

In Our Opinion: Island County’s pandemic bonuses are a smart idea, if legal

The latest federal stimulus plan, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Welcome back, Whidbey Island Fair, how we missed ya

After a year marked by fear, divisiveness and distancing, attending the Whidbey… Continue reading

My garden.
On the Rock, we walk, wander and garden while the sun shines

During sunshine, we are outdoors walking our trails, wandering our beaches and tending our gardens.

In Our Opinion: Ships should follow same environmental rules as everyone else

Over the last year, giant hulking figures emitting low, intrusive rumbles have… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: It’s time for governor to put social distancing behind us

It’s time for the days of mandatory social distancing to come to… Continue reading

Sound Off: Coverage of clear-cutting on island doesn’t tell complete story

Your recent article, “Despite how it may seem, clear-cutting not increasing,” lacks… Continue reading

From the Editor: Press releases always welcome, but they are just the first step

People are a lot more savvy about how newspapers work than they… Continue reading

Sound Off: This is a time to renew our pledge to remember the fallen

For many, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. The end of… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Illegal or not, Coupeville school board actions troubling

As role models for students, school boards should strive to follow the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: With candidate filing week at hand, it’s time to run for office

The outcome of this year’s election could have a significant impact on… Continue reading

Sound Off: Rethinking proposed bans on natural gas

By Don Brunell Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Disputes unmask extent of misinformation, confusion about face coverings

Together with social distancing, donning a face covering is proven to be… Continue reading