AUGUSTA — A resident opposed to the city’s rush to create a diversity, equity and inclusion ordinance and committee says the city should strive for equality but not make false promises of equity it can’t fulfill.

Resident Andy Hill spoke up Thursday at the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would create a diversity, equity and inclusion committee in Augusta, saying the city should stick with the founding principles of the country, including that all men are created equal, but not adopt what he sees as the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI.

“DEI categorizes people into groups, or victims, rather than as individuals,” Hill said Thursday as councilors took public comment on the proposal. “There can be no equity of outcomes across groups. Instead our focus should be on equality of opportunity, and equality before the law. Neither of which will result in equity of outcomes. Some people are more successful than others. Some people will stay out of jail while others don’t. Personal agency is important in life and is largely lacking in DEI principles.”

As it was the first of two required readings, councilors took no action or vote on the proposed ordinance, which Mayor Mark O’Brien said would likely come back to councilors for a second reading, and a final vote, at their next business meeting.

The ordinance currently before councilors, drafted by At-Large Councilor Abigail St. Valle, states: “The purpose of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee shall be to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment in the city and its government, recruit and retain employees, promote economic growth, and improve trust in City Government. The Committee shall review and advise the City Council on new and existing (city) policies and programs and make recommendations to the City Council to accomplish the purposes described herein.”

Councilors did not respond to Hill’s concerns or statements Thursday, other than Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind, who thanked him for being a rare member of the public to come comment at a council meeting.


“We don’t get a lot of public comment, so thanks for coming down,” Lind said. “Thanks for standing up and saying what you wanted to say, appreciate it.”

Hill expressed concern about what the proposed committee’s goals would be and what role it would play in the governance of Augusta.

He said if Augusta must “copy Portland and Bangor” and address diversity, equity and inclusion, it should do so not with a standing committee and ordinance, but rather with a resolution, proclamation or, at best, an ad hoc committee to further promote diversity, equity and inclusion principles.

St. Valle and other councilors have said there is urgency to adopting diversity, equity and inclusion policies in Augusta, especially following recent events including a neo-Nazi rally in the city, at which a small group of participants did Nazi salutes and carried a banner that read “Keep New England White.”

A minority of councilors, however, expressed concern the city was moving too fast and said councilors should undergo training on the concept of diversity, equity and inclusion before taking action.

“The sense of the majority of the council is to delay any recommended DEI training, ignore suggestions for an ad hoc committee and to make policy revisions on the fly, and let’s get this ordinance on the books,” Hill said. “So I recognize my comments tonight will be swimming upstream to the consensus in the room.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect revisions to the city’s proposed diversity, equity and inclusion ordinance, including the purpose of a new committee. A previous version quoted language from an outdated version of the ordinance.

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