Monterey County is located on the Central Coast of California just south of the San Francisco Bay Area. The rich Salinas Valley extends through the heart of the County, making Monterey the third largest agricultural county in California. With 3,280.6 square miles, Monterey County’s population was last recorded at 435,232 and its demographics at 58% Hispanic, 30% White, 6% Asian, 3% bi/multiracial and 2% African American. 60% of the population speaks Spanish at home, with 31% being foreign born and 81% of that from Latin America. With 12.5% living below the poverty line, 32% of owner-occupied units are valued between $500-$1M and 24.8% have attained formal education of a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Monterey County began working on introducing equity with a public health approach through a Health in All Policies strategy, in 2012. Efforts to broaden the scope of those strategies throughout all County departments continued with building capacity for the formation of the County’s Governing for Racial Equity Initiative in 2016. Housed in the County Administrative Office, the Monterey County Governing for Racial Equity initiative has obtained full support of the Board of Supervisors with adoption of a resolution proclaiming the County’s commitment to advancing racial equity in government, in 2017. We currently have an Implementation and an Introductory cohort participating in the Northern California GARE and are in the process of completing a Racial Equity Action Plan.
In 2016, introductory training on governing for racial equity were provided to the Board of Supervisors and Department Heads, leading into the 2017 learning year of GARE. We continue to build capacity within Monterey County, understanding the importance of keeping a balance between healing, reparations and strategically taking action towards implementing racial equity assessment tools and developing opportunities for meaningful and continuous community engagement.
Rosemary Soto is the manager for the Monterey County Gang Violence Prevention initiative, whose primary goal is to address the root causes of violence and gang involvement much of which can be attributed to racial disparities and inequities. In 2014, with support from The California Endowment, County Supervisor Armenta and Rosemary attended the GRE conference in Portland, Oregon and there made the request to The California Endowment that in-depth learning opportunities be brought locally to jurisdictions in California, most particularly to Monterey County. Following 4 officer-related shootings resulting in deaths of Latino victims, planning for GRE training tailored to Monterey County was halted and redirected to address the more critical needs of the City of Salinas. Rosemary participated in the training as a representative of Monterey County government, a consistent partner to the City of Salinas and with support of Assistant County Administrators Manny González and Nick Chiulos, continues to lead Monterey County’s Governing for Racial Equity Initiative.