Three questions will appear on your ballot November 8, 2022. Learn more about what’s on your ballot below.
Establish a Racial Equity Office, Plan, and Commission
Ballot Question #2: Establish a Racial Equity Office, Plan, and Commission
This proposal would amend the City Charter to:
Require citywide and agency-specific Racial Equity Plans every two years. The plans would include intended strategies and goals to improve racial equity and to reduce or eliminate racial disparities;
Establish an Office of Racial Equity and appoint a Chief Equity Officer to advance racial equity and coordinate the City’s racial equity planning process. The Office would support City agencies in improving access to City services and programs for those people and communities who have been negatively affected by previous policies or actions, and collect and report data related to equity; and
Establish a Commission on Racial Equity, appointed by City elected officials. In making appointments to this Commission, elected officials would be required to consider appointees who are representative of or have experience advocating for a diverse range of communities. The Commission would identify and propose priorities to inform the racial equity planning process and review agency and citywide Racial Equity Plans.
Shall this proposal be adopted?
Ballot Abstract Text
This proposal would create an Office of Racial Equity, require a citywide Racial Equity Plan every two years, and create a Commission on Racial Equity to represent communities’ needs and publicly review the citywide Racial Equity Plan. Racial equity means the achievement of equity with a particular emphasis on race and intersecting characteristics and includes a process of closing gaps in wellbeing between racial groups, with the purpose of greater equity for all.
New York City’s government does not have an agency that specifically focuses government on creating and promoting equity, with an emphasis on racial equity. This proposal establishes a framework for planning and evaluating City government efforts to advance equity.
Office of Racial Equity
The proposed amendment would create an Office of Racial Equity, led by a Chief Equity Officer appointed by the Mayor, at the level of agency head or deputy mayor. The Office would be available to work with every City agency to train and provide technical assistance on racial equity. Every two years, each City agency, with guidance from the Office of Racial Equity, would develop an agency Racial Equity Plan. The Office would incorporate the agency Racial Equity Plans into a citywide Racial Equity Plan. The Office would establish standards for agencies regarding the collection and reporting of data to measure gaps and differences in wellbeing at the level of racial, ethnic, or other groups and communities. The Office of Racial Equity would identify “priority neighborhoods” to be highlighted in Racial Equity Plans based on identified disparities in equity, health, or socioeconomic burdens, or the neighborhood’s potential to be disproportionately impacted by future events that could exacerbate those disparities.
In addition to its role in the Racial Equity Plan development process, the Office of Racial Equity would establish a Citywide Access Design program to increase equitable access and reduce barriers to City programs, services, communications, and decision-making. The Office of Racial Equity would also support agencies in prioritizing the development and implementation of policies and practices to address “marginalization” of individuals or communities, which could include work to limit the use of criminal history and background checks, establish alternatives to punitive enforcement, improve equitable hiring and promotion within the City’s workforce, create equitable distribution of resources across neighborhoods, and reduce or eliminate wage or occupational segregation.
The proposal would also codify the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, which was created in 2020. Under this proposal, the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity would be located within the Office of Racial Equity and be headed by one or more chairpersons appointed by the Chief Equity Officer in consultation with the Mayor and other members appointed by the Chief Equity Officer in collaboration with their employing agencies. The Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity would provide policy advice to the Chief Equity Officer and coordinate governmental efforts to increase racial equity.
Racial Equity Plan
The proposed amendment would require the Mayor to create a citywide Racial Equity Plan and agencies to create agency Racial Equity Plans every two years. The citywide Racial Equity Plan and the agency Racial Equity Plans, as described above, would identify and communicate publicly the goals and strategies, both short and long term, for improving racial equity and justice. The Plans would also have data indicators, including neighborhood-level metrics, to measure the extent of progress on racial equity work and show the effect the work is having on wellbeing and disparities. That progress would be included in a biennial progress report. The racial equity planning schedule is structured to inform the budget planning process.
Timeline and Schedule
A draft of the first Plan would be delivered no later than January 16, 2024, with the final plan delivered no later than April 26, 2024, along with the Mayor’s preliminary and executive budgets. The short-term strategies would address the upcoming two fiscal years. The first full progress report would occur in September 2026. This timeline is designed to encourage agencies to put together their equity strategies while they are putting together their budgets, and in doing so, allow those equity strategies to inform both the expense and capital budgets.
Commission on Racial Equity
The proposed amendment would create a Commission on Racial Equity composed of 15 residents of New York City, intended to bring the perspectives of New York City communities into the decision-making process. The Commission would identify and propose community priorities to inform the racial equity planning process, and review and publicly comment upon agency and citywide Racial Equity Plans, including what data should be collected. The Commission would also publicly track agency compliance with the racial equity planning process, and could receive complaints about agency conduct that may be exacerbating racial disparities.
The Commission would be led by a chair who is jointly appointed by the Mayor and City Council Speaker. The Mayor would appoint seven commissioners. Five commissioners would be appointed by the City Council Speaker, with a representative from each borough. One commissioner would be appointed by the Comptroller, and one commissioner would be appointed by the Public Advocate. One Mayoral appointee and one City Council Speaker appointee would be required to represent the perspectives and concerns of New Yorkers under the age of 25.
In making appointments, each elected official would be required to consider, among other considerations, appointees who are representative of, or have experience advocating for, people who are Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all People of Color; immigrants, people with limited English proficiency, people with disabilities, students, youth, elders, people who are LGBTQ+, people who are justice-involved, recipients of public benefits, residents of public housing, and others. People who have expertise in racial equity or racial justice shall also be considered.
Download the Full Report
In developing the three Ballot Questions, Racial Justice Commission members heard and learned from everyday New Yorkers, community advocates and scholars and experts.
This full report presents in detail three structural changes, in the form of Ballot Questions, to appear on the November 8, 2022, ballot, along with a roadmap for further action the City should take to dismantle structural racism at all levels of government.