PIPESTONE — After consulting with people of color in the community, Mayor Myron Koets proposed to the city council Monday night that it approve an ordinance that would add a section in the city code creating a city Human Rights Commission.
"I've been meeting with various groups and what I've been finding out is they all have similar stories about interaction with the community," Koets told The Globe.
He explained to the city council Monday that people of color have expressed a reluctance to bring complaints of discrimination directly to the city council, in part because every member of the city council is white. The proposed Human Rights Commission would serve as a point of contact to mediate any such complaints that should arise in the future.
"Pipestone isn't any more racist than anywhere else," Koets told The Globe, but added that when someone does experience racism, they should have a local body to advocate for and with them.
The commission would have two main functions: as a forum for minority groups to express themselves, and as a committee to educate the community to bring about change, Koets said.
While drafting the language for the proposed ordinance, Koets looked to the city of Willmar and ended up essentially lifting the language used in its city code.
Council member Rodger Smidt wanted to know how the board members would be selected. Koets explained that people could volunteer, and the city council would also appoint members.
After hearing Koets's proposal, the council decided to introduce the ordinance. The council will vote on it at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for March 16.