FARGO — Fargo's first director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Terry Hogan, wanted to make one thing clear as he prepares to begin his new job on July 6.
"This isn't just about race," he said.
Rather, his work will also be about ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, faith and social status.
"Race is only a part of it. We want to be inclusive with everyone, every constituency," said the Chicago-area college professor, researcher and consultant in a telephone interview on Thursday, June 3. "We want to bridge gaps and come together."
"We hope to make Fargo the best it can be continuously," he said. "We want people to feel welcome here."
He said his first duties, some of which are outlined in a job description created by a seven-member city committee, will be to form partnerships and build those bridges.
Hogan, who holds a doctorate in public administration and policy, said he also plans to do assessments among city staff and in the community about the status of inclusivity and find out more about the "social fabric of Fargo."
"I'll let the data I find speak for itself," he said. After his initial work is done, Hogan plans to make recommendations to the City Commission, which voted 3-2 this week to hire him on a one-year contract for about $95,000.
The "no" votes came from Commissioners Tony Gehrig and Dave Piepkorn. Gehrig said he didn't support the creation of the position and said there would be "no way to measure success."
Referring to the job description, Gehrig said the director of diversity, equity and inclusion would be responsible for "assessing if there is systematic racism in Fargo. That's a conflict of interest. He will find racism, because if he doesn't he's out of a job."
"This position shouldn't be created," Gehrig said. Although he said he thought Hogan as a person would do a good job.
Mayor Tim Mahoney, who served on the selection committee along with Commissioner Arlette Preston, said the "city is ready" for such an addition to its staff.
"I know he will find racism," Mahoney said. "There's a lot of things going on in this world, and we have to see where we are headed as a city."
The mayor said he hopes Hogan's work will result in "having people come here, work here and raise their families. "
Hogan was selected after interviews with four finalists from a field of 64 applicants.
When he visited Fargo and did some research, he said he found it to be "a place where I'd love to be." He said he "felt the aroma" of the smaller city, compared to Chicago, and especially enjoyed the hospitality he found here.
"It's a beautiful city with beautiful people," he said. "And I really want to be a part of it."
He and his wife have a son who will be in eighth grade next year and a daughter in college. The family especially enjoys sports, with Hogan calling himself a "sports fanatic."
Although he's a Chicago Bears fan, he said "he'll take the heat" in this area saturated with Minnesota Vikings fans.