After months of talk in Wilsonville and surrounding cities about the role of welcoming and inclusive city statuses, the City of Wilsonville has begun working on its own inclusion resolution.
The City has repeatedly made it clear that the resolution is not a declaration of sanctuary but instead builds on the City's existing commitment to inclusion, as stated in its Martin Luther King Jr. Day Proclamation.
Created partially in response to neighboring cities drafting and adopting similar resolutions and proclamations, the council said that the resolution will act as a reinforcement or reiteration of its existing attitudes surrounding inclusion and welcoming.
At the April 17 City Council work session, the council reviewed an initial draft of the resolution, tentatively called "A resolution declaring the City of Wilsonville a welcoming and inclusive city." Following the resolution closely, a group of residents came to show their support. The majority of the supporters present were involved in a petition asking the council to create an inclusivity resolution.
According to Simon Springall, one of the primary penmen of the petition, he was happy with how the draft was phrased to be inclusive of multiple viewpoints, including "persons of all races, color, national origin, immigration or refugee status, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, mental, emotional, and/or physical ability, age, or economic status."
The City's resolution was primarily written by City Attorney Barbara Jacobson and City Councilor Susie Stevens and touches on themes of ongoing support for diversity and acceptance in the community.
"Being included is the key word," Stevens said. "This is nothing new for us to feel like this is a city where everyone is respected."
The council also made it clear that it supports resolution language that falls in line with federal and local laws and is not intended to denote a sanctuary status.
"It says that we're not going to circumvent the law," Stevens reiterated, stressing the importance of the clauses referencing the law.
Councilor Scott Starr made several edits right before the meeting, noting multiple areas of concern based on his own intuition and community feedback. He suggested removing the wording "embrace and celebrate" and other language refining notes, most of which the council approved along with Councilor Kristin Akervall's suggestion to translate the resolution into multiple languages.
Although the resolution was not on meeting agenda after the work session many gave testimony at the formal meeting.
Resident Jan Johnson said that she comes from grandparents who were immigrants and doesn't approve of suggestion to "go get people and drag them out of their homes," but she also stated her firm dislike of Wilsonville becoming a sanctuary city, which she claimed the City was trying to accomplish.
"If you've been following the news, there is no proposal to make this a sanctuary city," Mayor Tim Knapp said. "That is not accurate. There are no written documents or proposed documents that say that."
Springall, who was present at the work session, thanked the council for their work on the resolution.
"I was very happy to see the draft of the inclusivity resolution that you discussed earlier tonight and I think that I fully support your resolution and, indeed, the majority of the changes that you have agreed on tonight to clean it up to improve the flow," Springall said. "I think that it's important that people understand that this is not a sanctuary resolution and that we're not trying to go up against federal law in any way and I think that it is entirely designed, to my reading and my understanding, to be supportive of state and federal laws, and I appreciate that."
Many other supporters along with one decenter followed Springall's testimony, including supporter Maria del Carmen de Jesus. A Wilsonville resident for 13 years with children in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, del Carmen de Jesus came to ask the council to support passing the resolution. Having earned her citizenship last year after spending more than 35 years in the United States, she wanted to express her belief in the importance of the resolution.
"We've asked our staff to incorporate a couple of final revisions into a proposal that we anticipate being done and brought forward to the city council for consideration at the next meeting, which will be May 1," Knapp said. "This is a process that we're trying to feel our way through and I think that it's best to hear everyone's concerns beforehand and not afterwards, so I think that we're headed toward a consensus and we'll look forward to that being on the agenda next meeting."