People sitting in a government meeting to discuss agenda items.
The Los Gatos DEI Commission held its first meeting Jan. 11 to prioritize its agenda. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

A new Los Gatos commission is taking a look into how the town treats people who live and work there, and how it welcomes visitors.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission held its first meeting on Jan. 11, and its purpose is to advise the Los Gatos Town Council on inclusion needs and how to create an inviting space. Commissioners prioritized several items, including the development of a yearly communications campaign, an equitable review of town events and the creation of a more collaborative environment between town groups, such as the Arts and Culture Commission. The group also plans to identify how to incorporate DEI policies in schools and review the community grant decision-making process.

The priorities align with recommendations the town received from American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley (ALF) that was brought in to assess DEI concerns.

Dominic Broadhead, one of nine commissioners appointed by the town council, said he has faced discrimination and hate speech in town. He was appointed to the Los Gatos-based organization seat because he works at LGS Recreation — the Los Gatos-Saratoga Community Education and Recreation Center.

He joined the commission to ensure others in the community aren’t subjected to discriminatory behavior.

“I want to be part of the driving force to make sure that (discrimination) doesn’t happen as often or at all, (and) people feel more comfortable to be here,” he told San José Spotlight.

Councilmembers approved the commission’s creation in a 4-1 vote last September, with Mayor Mary Badame casting the sole no vote.

Badame said she opposed the commission because the town has these benchmarks in place, and that she thought the commission was redundant during the council’s meeting on Oct. 17, 2023. Yet she supports the commission.

“We are excited to have an outstanding group of appointees dedicated towards making Los Gatos an inclusive community where everyone feels welcome,” she told San José Spotlight.

The commission includes three Los Gatos residents, two youth commissioners, one community health and services commissioner, one commissioner employed at a Los Gatos-based business, one faith leader and one Los Gatos-based nonprofit employee. The arts and culture commissioner and business owner spots are still unfilled.

Commissioners can serve from one to three years contingent on their appointment and can be reappointed when their term expires.

The group was sparked by a fraught history of discrimination in the town.

In 2021, protestors disrupted several Los Gatos council meetings, speaking out against the Black Lives Matter movement and attacked former Mayor Marico Sayoc and her son, targeting his sexuality. State Sen. Dave Cortese then passed legislation barring unruly behavior from public meetings.

Following the events of 2021, the council hired ALF to review its processes and policies to ensure they aligned with the town’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan, also known as JEDI. The council reviewed the report’s findings in 2022, which revealed community concerns about inclusion. ALF recommended the town form a commission to continue fostering a JEDI-based environment.

Jeff Suzuki, 25, has lived in Los Gatos since he was 10. As president of the Los Gatos Anti-Racism Coalition, he said the commission has potential, but is uncertain how much its work will affect town policy.

“(The commission) can be given a lot of power to propose policies, make changes, build proper relationships and really get that needle going. Or it can be actively hamstrung,” he told San José Spotlight. “I’m afraid of that.”

Councilmember Rob Moore supported the commission last year and said after hearing the experiences of marginalized communities in Los Gatos, he believes the commission will help inform the council on issues of diversity and inclusion.

“Those are people whose voices matter just as much as anyone else’s in our community,” he told San José Spotlight.

Broadhead said he’s hopeful the group’s work will lead to a more inclusive town.

“I just don’t want people to be afraid of the words diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said. “We want to add more opportunities, more chances for growth.”

The commission will meet every second Thursday of the month at 5 p.m. and the meetings’ audio will be recorded and made available to the public.

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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