City of Greensboro’s International Advisory Committee to Hold Fifth Election
For many decades, Greensboro has been a place of transition and resettlement for refugees and immigrants. It has become home to families from all over the world seeking safety and better opportunities.
In 2008, the Greensboro City Council recognized its lack of political representation of the diverse and expansive international community and decided to do something about it. This prompted the Human Relations Commission of the City of Greensboro to develop and create the International Advisory Committee (IAC) as an active civic platform for Greensboro immigrants to participate in. The mission of the IAC, according to its website is: to ensure the voice of the international community is heard, share its successes, and present its concerns to the Human Relations Commission (HRC) and City Council.”
The IAC is led by five elected leaders and sustained through community involvement. They hold monthly planning meetings where community representatives can voice concerns of their community and brainstorm solutions and design proposals to present to the HRC and City Council.
Since its creation, the IAC has played an important role in the facilitation of several accomplishments for its constituents. They influenced the creation of a citywide Hispanic Heritage Month; they advocated to keep a public park from being gated which would have prevented Congolese families from being able to use the facilities freely; and they supported families at the Summit and Cone Apartments where a devastating fire killed five refugee children in May of 2018, spurring the city into action resulting in nearly 1,000 housing code violations identified and subsequently the condemnation of over 30 units.
The committee has received national attention for its structure and purpose as a unique and effective method of incorporating the voice of the international community into local government.
The success of the IAC has garnished the interest of many prospective candidates for the upcoming election. All five leadership seats are open for election, including a number of ambassador positions which allow for the appointment of representatives from communities to work alongside the leadership team. Leadership and ambassadors work closely with immigrant communities to bring relevant issues to the city council and advocate for solutions that benefit the community as a whole.
The elections are held every two years; the last round of elections brought over 500 Greensboro residents out to vote. The IAC team is hoping that this year they can get double the participation of the previous term. It is important to the IAC that more Greensboro immigrants become aware of the existence of the IAC to garner stronger political strength and incorporate the needs of more immigrants to city government.
The election is on March 23rd from 10am to 4pm at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Anyone 14 years or older within Greensboro city limits can vote, no ID’s are necessary, only your zip code is needed. In addition to being able to vote, a number of area agencies will be present sharing information and resources.
The IAC is still in need of interpreters for the election, please contact Jodie Stanley with the City’s Human Relations Department at: email@example.com if you are able to help.
Written by Elijah Rogan-Kelly, Guilford College, Sustainable Food Systems Major, Intern spring 2019