Clackamas County Commissioner Working to Defund $828,000 DEI Initiatives While Enduring Left-Wing Backlash

Evan Poellinger | August 8, 2023
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Clackamas County, Oregon Commissioner Mark Shull has been making strides to do away with so-called Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in his county, despite concentrated opposition from numerous leftist organizations. On May 24, Shull proposed cutting the entirety of funding — $828,000 — from Clackamas County’s Equity and Inclusion office, with his proposal supported by two additional commissioners. The Equity and Inclusion Office was founded in July, 2020 during the George Floyd riots in Portland, and cost $1 million to establish.

Shull’s proposal almost immediately drew backlash from organizations sympathetic to the diversity-oriented mission of the Equity and Inclusion Office. On July 6, hundreds of organizations and businesses signed a letter addressed to the county board of commissioners, arguing that “the work of this office is essential for the continued progress, unity, and success of our community” and demanding that the board “maintain or increase funding” to the office. The amalgamation of organizations affixing their support to the letter included local chapters of the notoriously leftist ACLU and ADL, as well as a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

In response to the outcry, Shull doubled down and outlined his grievances with the Equity and Inclusion Office. Shull declared, “the words equity, inclusion, and diversity are friendly words that naïve people are attracted to, but for the woke, the words really mean one thing: applying unequal standards to ensure preferential outcomes for individuals and groups based on race, color of skin, sex, or gender identity.” Shull added that the letter represented “nothing more than progressive left political pressure.”

HereTogether Oregon, one of the signatories of the letter, characterized the office as an institution which would “effectively address homelessness and housing insecurity.” However, despite this pronouncement, in the two years following the Equity and Inclusion Office’s creation, “Oregon's homelessness population grew nearly 23 percent from 2020 to 2022, a figure that massively outpaces the national average of less than 1 percent” according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the face of such strong promulgation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion-driven policies, it seems that at least some local officials have seen fit to take a stand in opposition.