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McCandless OKs resolution promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity

Tony LaRussa
| Saturday, March 3, 2018, 2:21 p.m.

At the urging of a local minister, McCandless council has unanimously approved a resolution to promote diversity in the municipality.

The measure, which was developed from a draft resolution provided by the Rev. Donald Green on Jan. 15 — Martin Luther King Day — supports the promotion of “equality, diversity and inclusivity” in the town.

Green said he asked town officials to consider the resolution “as an attempt to keep his (King's) vision of a just and equitable nation before us.”

“The resolution articulates a vision of who we want to be as a community, as a message to those who would look to come to McCandless that they are welcome,” he said. “I hope the council, moving forward, does everything in its power to implement that vision in a positive way.”

Green, of McCandless, is a Lutheran minister and the former executive director of Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania.

Councilman Bill McKim requested a minor addition to one clause in the resolution to affirm that it applies to people who seek “lawful” residence in, or who visit the town.

Council President Kim Zachary questioned whether adding such a qualifier might open the municipality to liability.

“I'm afraid that if we start making exceptions to who we accept and start excluding people we are going to set ourselves up for some issues,” she said.

Councilman Bill Kirk, who supported the change, said the added word clarifies the town's position.

“The change just suggests that we would not welcome wrongdoers and fugitives from justice,” he said, adding that its inclusion in the measure also ensures that the town's position is consistent with the Pennsylvania and United States constitutions.

Town attorney Gavin Robb said the additional word would not open the municipality to legal liability.

“Illegal immigrants would arguably not be seeking lawful residency or be lawfully visiting the community,” he said. “That might be one group that would be excluded along with fugitives and anybody else who is here for all the wrong reasons.”

A summation of the resolution has been added to the town's home page mission statement. Green praised council for its efforts but said it will be “a challenge” for officials to implement.

“We live in a country where immigrants from Haiti and Africa are denigrated, where immigrants are called venomous snakes,” he said. “We need to say that we do not agree, that we stand for inclusivity, equality and justice.”

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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