Human Rights Commission leader passing baton

EVERETT — During her three years leading the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission, Meg Winch has helped the group define its role of educating the public and advising county officials.

Proud as she is of that work, Winch said she’s ready to step down to let others carry it forward.

Her exit from the group this month coincides with two commission meetings: a joint session with the County Council on Wednesday afternoon and a regular monthly meeting Thursday night.

“I do find that the vast majority of people in our county are very welcoming and engaged,” Winch said. “There will always be the vocal minority of people who want to foment hatred, but our job is to be louder.”

Thursday’s meeting is to include an election to pick Winch’s successor as chairperson from among the other commissioners. It’s also likely to include reactions to an event that’s riveted world attention: the Aug. 9 shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

To address law-enforcement questions, one of the Snohomish County commission’s nine members is a law-enforcement representative appointed by the sheriff.

“I think their involvement has been exemplary,” Winch said.

County leaders formed the Human Rights Commission in 2010 and it started meeting a year later.

One spot on the commission is reserved for each of the five County Council districts. There are four at-large positions, including the sheriff’s appointee and another member named by the county executive.

There are three current vacancies, not counting Winch’s imminent departure.

To help its mission of educating the public, commissioners organize two community events every year.

Humanity Not Hatred, an event promoting tolerance, took place July 17 at McCollum Park. International Human Rights Day is celebrated every year on Dec. 10.

For next year, the commission has requested a budget of $15,000.

The volunteer commissioners do not have the training or resources to investigate reports of unfair treatment but can refer people to the appropriate county or state authorities.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Meetings

The Snohomish County Human Rights Commission invites everyone to attend two meetings this week:

*A joint meeting with the County Council is scheduled at 3 p.m. Wednesday on the 8th Floor of the county’s Robert Drewel Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett.

*The commission’s regular monthly meeting is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, in the first floor meeting room of the Robert Drewel Building.

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