The Coast News Group
Mali Woods-Drake, appointed to the new Encinitas Equity Committee, speaks at a Black Lives Matter protest last June. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg
CitiesCommunityEncinitasEncinitas Featured

8 named to new Encinitas committee on social equity

ENCINITAS — After adopting a resolution to form a committee on social equity in February, the Encinitas City Council this week appointed the eight members who will serve along with Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Councilmember Kellie Hinze.

Encinitas residents Allison Blackwell, Joanie Corrales, Sara Langill, Mario Ordonez-Calderon, Ross Ridder, Robin Sales, Marlon Taylor and Mali Woods-Drake were all appointed to the Encinitas Equity Committee by a unanimous vote of the council.

The term of their appointment on the committee will be determined at a later date.

Taylor, a Navy veteran, is vice president of the nonprofit Encinitas4Equality and made news last year for being the first Black resident of Encinitas to be elected to public office as a trustee of the Encinitas Union School District.

Also on the committee is Marlon Taylor, a Navy veteran, school trustee and vice president of Encinitas4Equality, here speaking at an election rally in November. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg

“It is my firm belief that by addressing our blind spots and confronting any issues discovered we can be more effective, innovative and, most importantly, more connected,” Taylor said. “To do this we have to have the courage to have adult conversations and proactively look for solutions to any equity challenges we encounter.”

Joining Taylor on the committee is the executive director and president of Encinitas4Equality, Woods-Drake. The nonprofit was co-founded by Woods-Drake last summer. The stated mission of the organization is “to educate, organize and mobilize our community to work in allyship with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color), LGBTQ and disenfranchised members of society.”

“While I have spent my life working toward social justice, I truly believe that it has only been in the last year that I have begun my work in my journey as an anti-racist,” Woods-Drake said.

The stated purpose of the committee that Taylor, Woods-Drake and their fellow appointees will sit on is to be a forum for a diverse group of voices to provide input and help the city of Encinitas create safe and accessible opportunities for all of its residents.

“I’m really excited by this committee and the energy and enthusiasm that the people who spoke tonight have shown,” Blakespear said.

A total of 16 applications for the committee were received by the city before the deadline with a handful withdrawing their applications and opting not to speak during the City Council meeting.

Diversity, of course, was a priority for the council in considering the appointments, as Councilmember Joy Lyndes said during the meeting.

“I’ve been involved in a national diversity, equity and inclusion board where we’ve done some important work in our industry,” Lyndes said. “And one of the things that we used as a guiding principle is to bring as much diversity into the board as possible because you’ve got to represent what you’re trying to do. So, I was so thrilled to see this group of folks.”

Hinze, who will also join the committee, spoke about the importance of having people with specific experience related to equity.

“It was important to include voices that have experienced personal prejudice or have experienced historic exclusion from a lot of the decision-making roles of society. And I think that we have all of those things tonight,” Hinze said.

Hinze also noted that since this is a public committee, she hopes all those applicants who were not chosen will continue to be involved with the committee as members of the public.

The committee will begin with an annual work plan to start making suggestions to the council on issues affection the city, such as transportation, housing, land use and public safety.