Though my tenure on City Council was brief, I hope I helped leave Dubuque better off than I found it.

People may cite my decade-long quest for a more pet-friendly Dubuque as a prime achievement. And while that cause is still very dear to me, my priorities have evolved to challenging greater inequities.

That’s one reason why the council’s decision to leave my seat vacant was so disappointing, if not unexpected.

Citing a disagreement with a stance I took behind closed doors, and therefore can’t publicly defend, did add some insult to injury.

However, I recognize that being challenged to embrace change is hard.

Especially when it requires self-reflection more than defensiveness.

Especially when it suggests shifts in systems long-dominated by white, patriarchal power structures you may have unknowingly enabled for years.

Incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion might seem “risky” to some, but ultimately it is the safest and most beneficial thing we can do to fortify our organizations.

That’s why I hope whoever gets elected in November, and especially the candidate who fills my seat, has a strong understanding of equity issues and will stand up for the workers of Dubuque, as I strived to do.

I challenge council candidates to adopt the following Healthy Workplace Pledge — if not as strict policy, at least as a personal creed.

“As a candidate for Dubuque City Council, I swear to serve in an ethical and fair manner, in the best interests of the citizens of Dubuque, and to commit to supporting the following goals:

• A city organization and workplace free from discrimination based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, economic status, country of origin or other protected status;

• Expedited updates to and enforcement of best-in-practice policies and training procedures which proactively protect city employees from the detrimental effects of hostile work environments, harassment and discrimination;

• Protecting taxpayers from the threat of expensive and time-

consuming discrimination and excessive- force litigation;

• Implicit bias training and annual CheckPoint 360-style reviews for all employees under council supervision;

• Required annual reviews for most city employees, especially those making over $100,000 per year;

• A high standard for employee retention rates and the consideration of the major loss of value, both to the community and to the taxpayers, when talented, high-performing employees leave the organization;

• An internal minimum wage policy for city employees and contractors;

• A requirement that all outgoing employees be provided an opportunity for a written exit interview;

• An annual summarized report of pending, active or closed litigation over the past five years, especially related to discrimination or excessive force, be provided to the council.

I acknowledge and commend the existing and ongoing efforts to strengthen performance in these areas, and to make Dubuque a true “city of choice” for all to live, work and play.

As Dubuque is a shining example for other cities in endlessly impressive ways, my hope is that future leadership of the Masterpiece on the Mississippi can reach a consensus that setting the bar on equity efforts, both inside the organization and out, is a sky-high priority, too.

Thank you for everything, Dubuque. It has been an honor and a pleasure serving you.

Larson represented Ward 3 on the Dubuque City Council from January 2018 through Aug. 23. She now resides in Decatur, Ill. She may be contacted at

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