Seek more diversity in workforce
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Sullivan County legislators got a glimpse of county government’s racial makeup on Thursday.
Personnel Officer Carolyn Hill presented a survey of employees’ races as of December 31 and broken down by department, without identifying particular people.
Almost every department featured a preponderance of white employees, though white males were the majority only in the offices of the district attorney, Public Works, sheriff and Veterans Services.
In fact, 635 of the county’s 1,091 employees, or 58.2 percent, were women. Racially, 546 white women comprised 50.05 percent of the county’s workforce (not counting elected and legislatively appointed workers).
White men were the second largest racial/gender group in the county’s employ, totalling 396 workers, or 36.3 percent.
The county employed 59 black women as of December 31, or 5.41 percent of the total workforce. Black men constituted 3.3 percent, or 36 workers.
Hispanic women totalled 27 (2.47 percent), while Hispanic men totalled 20 (1.83 percent). Three Asian women and three Asian men were also employed, comprising .27 percent each. Rounding out the workforce was a Pacific Islander man (.09 percent).
The numbers intrigued and disappointed some legislators.
“I’m thinking we have to be a little more proactive [in hiring minorities],” Legislator Leni Binder observed. “… People are really afraid to apply for these jobs.”
“I agree we have to do better than we’ve done,” added Legislator David Sager. “... But we can’t escape the Civil Service laws.”
Human Rights Commission Director Eric Monroe said outreach efforts are underway both inside and outside county government to demystify the hiring process.
Hill added that if a large amount of Civil Service applicants fail a test, the state is notified and reviews the situation.
Legislators in the county’s Personnel Committee agreed, however, that a grassroots approach is needed.
“Obviously there’s a disconnect in relating,” Sager remarked.
In other legislative business
• County Manager David Fanslau informed legislators that the state has yet to certify the new electronic voting machines it’s requiring municipalities to use in the next election.
Yet the price for the machines is expected to rise in the near future, so Legislator Alan Sorensen advocated for “encouraging” the state to speed up the certification process.