Salem Race Equity Task Force Issues Report

23-member Task Force issues report after year of study, public input, and deliberation
RETF report

The Race Equity Task Force for the City of Salem has published their final report, available now at Convened in June 2020 by Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, the task force was charged with studying key sectors of the community to identify systemic and institutional racial inequities and, to the best of their ability, recommend potential strategies to help overcome those disparities.

To guide their work, the Task Force set up five subcommittees, each focused on one of the community areas of concern: Community Culture, Economics, Education, Health, and Public Safety. The report outlines the findings and action items in each of these five areas, based on a combination of detailed research, data analysis, and expansive community input.

As a core action, the Task Force also recommended the City form a permanent committee to address race equity issues and create a senior staff level position within the City to lead this work on an ongoing basis. Based on those recommendations, Mayor Driscoll and Task Force chairman Shawn Newton filed an Ordinance with the City Council in June to establish a permanent Race Equity Commission and Mayor Driscoll created a new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position within the FY2022 City budget. The commission Ordinance is pending before a City Council committee and the new Director’s position was approved by the City Council by a vote of 10-1.

“The Race Equity Task Force was established to identify disparities throughout our community and to develop the core elements of a strategy to help guide work at the City level to tackle these inequities,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll. “Our hope is that this initial report will galvanize even broader support for confronting inequities, and create a forum for residents to listen, reflect, and act together to build a more inclusive community for all. I am incredibly grateful to the volunteer members of the Task Force, to chairman Shawn Newton, and to Salem resident Jakari Griffith, who served as the group’s administrator, for all of their time and commitment to this work. This is an important moment for our city. The time for action is now and a strategic, thoughtful approach to addressing inequities is key to our community’s growth and prosperity. This is the promise reflected in the Task Force’s work and in this report, and it’s a pledge for intentional action that we must continue to advance.”

“We are a vibrant and welcoming community, passionate on so many issues and determined to solve our challenges together,” said Shawn Newton, chair of the Race Equity Task Force. “Racism was created by people, and I truly believe that it can end by the will of the people – meaning each of us. I believe that Salem can be a benchmark for communities across the nation to look toward for how to lay a foundation that addresses racial equity gaps. I am truly grateful to all of the members of the Task Force, who met regularly in this effort for over a year, determined to make one of the biggest contributions of their lives. Because of their collective and collegial work, I have come closer to understanding how racism impacts each and every one of us. I also want to thank Mayor Driscoll, without whom none of this work would have been possible. Mayor Driscoll showed true leadership in convening this effort and dedicating her own time and efforts to try to solve one of our community and our nation’s greatest challenges. The work to close racial equity gaps and to end racism begins with each of us, and the Task Force is merely one means to address it. Let’s continue to work together to end racism once and for all.”


Salem Race Equity Task Force

Shawn Newton, Chair


Community Culture Subcommittee

Anyfern Gonzalez, Co-Chair

Senator Joan Lovely, Co-Chair

Terrell Greene

Siddhartha V. Shah

Dr. Stephen Zrike


Economics Subcommittee

Cristina Machuca, Co-Chair

Jude Zephir, Co-Chair

Dr. Sean Bennett

Councillor Domingo Dominguez


Education Subcommittee

Dr. Nate Bryant, Co-Chair

Manny Cruz, Co-Chair

Mayor Kim Driscoll

Gwen Rosemond

Representative Paul Tucker


Health Subcommittee

Ana Nuncio, Co-Chair

Councillor Megan Riccardi, Co-Chair

Graysen Ocasio

Dr. David Roberts


Public Safety Subcommittee

Thomas MacDonald, Co-Chair

Joe Riley, Co-Chair

Lucy Corchado

Dennis King

Graysen Ocasio

Councillor Conrad Prosniewski