While Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford has been warning about mass layoffs of police and firefighters if State Sen. Andrew Jones' (R-Centre) bill to cut occupational taxes passes, the mayor's office has added a director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to its payroll with the potential for a $100,000 annual salary.

"Andrew Jones and the co-sponsors of SB 65 are now leading the largest overreach to defund the police and first responders in our state history," Ford said in a statement to 1819 News. "[I] never thought I would live to see legislators in Alabama getting behind the largest overreach effort in state history to defund the police and raise taxes."

Ford created the DEI director position as one of his first acts in office with a resolution approved by the city council on Nov. 7, 2022 — the same day Ford was sworn in — with a pay range of $56,056 to $100,276.80, which does not include other expenses. According to the city's pay and evaluation plan, starting pay within a given range is at the mayor's discretion.

Ford handpicked Ruth Moffat to helm the new position due to her work as executive director of United Way of Etowah County, where she has served since December 2020, according to her Linkedin profile. The most recent tax documents posted on the IRS website listed the salary for that position at $79,818.

Moffat told The Gadsden Times that the city has a DEI plan in place that addresses housing, education, policy, culture and "unconscious bias." Moffat will also be in charge of interacting with local nonprofits to advance the DEI task force's agenda.

DEI policies have been spreading nationwide into schools, businesses and governments. In February, the Alabama Republican Party passed a resolution calling for the abolition of DEI policies in public universities and other institutions, claiming that rather than achieving the alleged goal of promoting the representation and participation of different identity groups, they "have actually stifled intellectual diversity, prevented equal opportunity and discriminated against anyone who dissents from these policies."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email daniel.taylor@1819news.com.

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