Athens Mayor Steve Patterson was appointed to serve on the National League of Cities (NLC) Race, Equity and Leadership Council (REAL) for 2021. Patterson was appointed by NLC President Kathy Maness to serve a one-year term, according to a release from the city of Athens.
This council consists of government-elected officials throughout the country. Patterson has been a NLC member since 2015, and as a member on the REAL Council, he said he will be discussing both state and federal policies regarding racial equity.
“Often there are things that we have to get in front of our congressmen and senators in DC when it comes to racial equity, and overcoming 450 years of systemic racism,” Patterson said.
Leon Andrews, director of NLC’s Race, Equity and Leadership council, said Patterson will greatly fulfill his role on the council.
“Mayor Patterson will be a voice for cities of similar sizes across Ohio and the country of local leaders committed to advancing racial equity in their cities,” Andrews said in an email.
Patterson said his previous life experience will allow him to succeed in his new position.
“I think that my life experiences, and in the places that I’ve lived and had seen inequity, in one case, caused me to seek employment which ultimately became Athens, Ohio … because of the overt racism and segregation that I was noticing,” Patterson said. “And (I) just couldn't tolerate the fact that was the place in which I lived.”
Since filling this role, Patterson said he is working with Andrews to discuss racial equity within Athens. Patterson said he took the role due to the impact it could have on the Athens community.
“Knowing what the Race, Equity and Leadership team has to offer for communities, (it) was a simple decision to make to reach out directly to REAL and ask if they would put together a list of services that they could provide for the city of Athens, to do what we need to do when it comes to racial equity,” Patterson said.
REAL will consist of two co-chairs that oversee the committee during the 2021 term. Victoria Woodards, mayor of Tacoma, Washington, and Jake Spano, mayor of St. Louis Park, Minnesota will be the co-chairs, according to the release.
“I hope to continue to bring the best practices here to Athens, as well as to the state of Ohio, and to continue to fight for racial equity and active allyship as I move forward,” Patterson said. “It's quite the honor to serve in this capacity through the National League of Cities, on the Race, Equity and Leadership Council.”