Jefferson County may be dealing with the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy filing, a federal hiring order, and a limited budget. But the commission president says that's not what's holding the county back. He and others believe the issue is racial mistrust.
Commission President David Carrington made his remarks in a speech to the Kiwanis Club. He outlined the progress the county has made toward exiting bankruptcy, getting out of a federal hiring order, and changing the healthcare model. But he says racial mistrust is in the way of economic growth and educational opportunities.
"Racial mistrust causes friction and when you're trying to recruit new business, any friction isn't productive. We need to focus our energy on better understanding each other," he said.
Fellow Commissioner Sandra Little Brown agrees.
"We are all human, so we must realize we are all human and need each other," said Brown.
The current commission still has time to address unfair hiring and promotion practices involving women and minorities.
"31 years- isn't it about time to get past it?," said Carrington.
"We're working through it. It's so embedded in people- the racial issues. You have to use kid gloves," said Brown.
Neither Brown nor Carrington offered specific solutions. Rather, they encourage better communication.