Apparently, some City Council members are ducking when it comes to the Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative to change the elected municipal government body from nine districts to five district representatives with four at-large members.
They are not alone.
So are some challengers who want to be on the council.
“With only four responses to the questionnaire, I believe the others did not want their support or opposition for the 5-4 referendum made public until after the election on the 26th,” Ted Mohn says about a Vote Yes Fayetteville questionnaire that organizers say was sent in June to City Council candidates, including Mayor Mitch Colvin and his opponent Freddie Delacruz.
Those pushing for restructuring the council are former four-term mayor Tony Chavonne, who is publisher of CityView TODAY; former two-term mayor Nat Robertson; former mayor pro tems Jim Arp and Wesley Meredith; and past council members Bobby Hurst, Wade Fowler and Mohn.
And don’t forget 5,000 others.
The Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative has secured 5,007 signatures from city residents, according to Angie Amaro, the interim director of the Cumberland County Board of Elections. That’s enough signatures for the initiative to be placed as a referendum on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
Johnny Dawkins is the only councilman who responded to the Vote Yes Fayetteville questionnaire, according to a release from organizers. He supports restructuring the council. Others responding to the questionnaire, according to the release, were mayoral candidate Freddie Delacruz, District 6 candidate Peter Pappas and District 8 candidate Michael Pinkston. They, like Dawkins, support the initiative.
Those who didn’t respond to the questionnaire, initiative organizers say, were Mayor Mitch Colvin, Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Keefe Jensen of District 1, Councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram of District 2, Councilman Antonio Jones of District 3, Councilman D.J. Haire of District 4, Councilman Larry Wright of District 7, Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin of District 8 and Councilwoman Yvonne Kinston of District 9.
Challengers not responding, organizers say, were Alex Rodriguez in District 1, former councilman Tyrone Williams in District 2, Mario Benavente in District 3, Thomas Greene in District 4, Frederick Lachance in District 5, Derrick Thompson in District 6, Brenda McNair in District 7 and Deno Hondros in District 9.
Tell us where you stand or …
Whether council members or challengers responded to the Vote Yes Fayetteville questionnaire, we do know how some feel about changing the council seating chart.
The mayor is against it.
And Banks-McLaughlin is adamantly opposed to it, saying at a Greater Fayetteville Chamber candidates forum on June 30 that the initiative is racist and about “race, power and control.”
Not so, Mohn says.
It’s about better governance and greater accountability.
“My personal opinion is that having a mixture of single-member districts and at-large seats affords citizens additional input to their locally elected representatives and their policy decision-making process,” says Mohn, a five-term councilman from 2007 to 2011 and from 2013 to 2019. “Having a vote for six members is much better than only voting for two members. Having six elected officials responsible to returning my calls, emails and texts versus only two means my voice, ideas and opinions have to be considered by 60% of the elected body versus only 20%.
“Having five-single member districts also allows the City Council to create better-compacted districts, keeping communities of interest grouped together versus the current crazily gerrymandered districts.
“During the last City Council redistricting process, it was overtly evident most current members of council were more concerned about incumbency protection versus adopting common sense districts,” Mohn says. “Fayetteville City Council districts are a posterchild for what gerrymandered districts look like.”
You, as a city resident, have the right to know where council members and candidates stand on issues, including the Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative.
Council members and challengers solicit your votes.
If you want my vote, you will tell me where you stand on issues.
And speaking of yes. Yes, I work for Tony Chavonne, publisher of CityView TODAY. The last time I saw him, we talked about health care and Elvis.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-624-1961.