Council holds first session with honorary member

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bass praises council for inclusiveness, urges listening to differences

Monday’s Austin City Council meeting was business as usual, except for one new face sitting among the regular attendees of city department heads.

Honorary Council Member George Bass attended his first council meeting Monday evening. The council voted unanimously to confirm Bass as Austin first honorary council member during its regular meeting on Oct. 1.

“I want to say this indeed a pleasure and I am very humbled by this opportunity,” Bass told the council. “This, to me, is a testament to this leadership group … I think it shows your intentional approach to making sure that this city that we all love and live in is representative of every member of our community.”

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The honorary council position was created at the recommendation of the Austin Human Rights Commission as a means to “empower multicultural leadership.” The position carries a three-month term.

Bass, who is the Director of Business Services at Riverland Community College, is originally from Gambia. He has been in the United States for 22 years and in Austin for almost two years. Prior to living in Austin, he worked for Northland Community and Technical College. In 2016, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 1A.

Since moving to Austin, Bass has been involved in the Austin community with groups such as the Austin Rotary Club, the Welcome Center, the Chamber of Commerce’s Austin Leadership program, the Austin Human Rights Commission and the Austin Art Council’s board of directors.

As an honorary member, Bass will receive all correspondence directed to the council (except that which is deemed “privileged”) and will participate in discussions at council meetings.

Although he will not have voting power, Bass will give the council insight into the various immigrant communities within Austin.

“I am looking forward to really being able to provide some meaningful insight,” he said.

Bass praised the council for its efforts to be inclusive and expressed hope that he could set the example for future honorary members.

“Disagreement and diverse opinions are critical in ultimately being able to come up with the best alternative we all seek to move us forward,” he said. “I think your effort to really involve a community effort in this process is very important… I guess you could say I came yesterday, and there are so many like me. Some of you have lived in Austin for several generations. What I find is the development and the upward and forward movement of this city is not going to leave anyone behind, irrespective of our differences of opinion or background or when you came. If this body produces something that is of meaning and value to this city, then I am going to benefit from your work. It is very, very important that we work together as a team. We may come from different wards and share different viewpoints, but in the end we’re all on the same team.”