Amendment aims to increase minority contractor participation

The playing field has been leveled for minority contractors in Winnebago County.

County Board members approved an amendment to the County’s purchasing ordinance at an April 13 board meeting.

That amendment provides for more minority participation.

It was approved by a vote of 27-1. County Board Member Pete MacKay (R-5) cast the sole dissenting vote.

“I think set asides are prejudicial of their own nature,” MacKay said.

The path to a vote, during the meeting, had some bumps. Finance Committee Chairman Tim Simms (R-14) asked the bill to be laid over, while acknowledging its significance.

“I might say this is a first time for Winnebago County,” Simms said, after making the motion to lay the amendment over.

But County Board member George Anne Duckett (D-12) said she’d like to see the amendment considered immediately. But Simms said he felt the County Board needed time to absorb the document.

“It’s a hallmark,” he said.

Duckett said the ordinance has been in the works for more than two years, and she’d like to see the County pass it before the City of Rockford.

County Board Member L.C. Wilson (D-12) agreed that time for passage should be now. “This has been a long time coming,” Wilson said. He stressed the ordinance’s importance to aspiring minority contractors. “It’s a win-win situation,” Wilson said.

County Board Member Pearl Hawks (D-6) was a member of the committee, which helped draft the amendment. Hawks said she was pleased the committee’s work came to fruition.

“I’m glad that it passed. It was something that was past overdue,” she said.

Hawks spelled out what was accomplished: “The County now has something in place for minority inclusion.”

From the April 19-25, 2006, issue

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