Missoula County Commissioners Dave Strohmaier, Josh Slotnick and Juanita Vero made their second monthly appearance in the KGVO studio on Tuesday morning to answer questions from listeners.

One of the main topics discussed was the creation of a new program using the acronym ‘JEDI’ to establish Missoula County’s commitment to a just, equitable, diverse and inclusive (JEDI)) Missoula County, which included the hiring of Equity Coordinator Jamar Galbreath.

The acronym JEDI stands for Just, Equitable, Diverse and Inclusive.

Commissioner Josh Slotnick explained the purpose of the new position.

 

“I believe the purpose of local government is to provide services to citizens and help solve problems that are too big, too thorny, and too expensive for people to do on their own,” said Slotnick. “To go about doing those things, we want to look first at who's on the receiving end of those services; who's getting the stuff that we create, and then internally who's doing the work to provide those services.”

Slotnick said an audit is underway on how those services are provided.

“A good piece of what will happen with our equity coordinator’s work over the next year is kind of an audit on who is receiving those services and who is doing the work,” he said. “Then we can kind of step back and see if we're really being effective. If it turns out that we're only taking care of the roads in some neighborhoods, but not another's, that's pretty meaningful. If it turns out that some people are getting a whole bunch of our public health services and other people aren't, that's pretty meaningful. We want to make sure that everybody who's paying taxes, everybody who lives here, get services. So this audit is kind of a big part of what's going to happen over the next year.”

Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said the new equity emphasis will assist the county in its hiring practices.

“Right now, we've been doing things pretty traditionally,” said Strohmaier. “We post job announcements and you kind of hope for the best. Sometimes you get a lot of applicants other times not so much. But are there groups within our community who just are not aware of opportunities within local government? That's a piece of what we're talking about.”

Slotnick said the new JEDI emphasis will hopefully result in more equitable outcomes for Missoula County residents.

“For the most part, if you're born to a low income family, you're going to be low income yourself, even though you may have the same sort of internal makeup as everybody else; middle class begets middle class, and the lower class begets the lower class. The color of your skin is also one of those determinants. The idea here is that if we try and put a little bit of energy towards changing that determination, so that if you are born poor or born in some other disadvantaged class, you actually have just as much opportunity to get to the middle class as anybody else.”

The Commissioners have committed to appearing once a month on KGVO. Mayor John Engen was unable to be a part of Tuesday’s broadcast.

Checking the Missoula County salaries website, Equity Coordinator Jamar Galbreath’s annual salary was not yet listed.

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