There is no doubt that all eyes have been on Fayetteville City Council for a year, and especially for a few weeks.
From how council members handled COVID-19 regulations for our city, to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, and more recently to the resignation of former District 3 Councilor Tisha Waddell, it is extremely evident now. for the ordinary resident how the decisions of the city Council impact them. Mask warrants, curfews during protests and even who will lead the Public Works Commission are all controlled by this body.
This is why I think it is important for people to be aware of the current attacks that the “Vote Yes Fayetteville” campaign is trying to bring to bear on the power we hold as voters.
The current structure of our municipal council includes nine elected district officials and our mayor, who leads “in general”. A general election is an election that requires winning votes throughout the city rather than the people who live in your immediate community which is your “district”. The Vote Yes campaign proposes a restructuring with five district representatives, four personal representatives and the remaining mayor in an individual capacity.
This spurious campaign claims that these changes will allow voters to have more representation on city council through representatives in general and solve bigger issues. But this is not the case.
General campaigns in a town the size of Fayetteville have historically cost much more than district elections. Currently, each neighborhood has a population of approximately 22,000 people while the entire town of Fayetteville has an estimated population of 210,000. Just thinking about this at a basic level, it’s clear that it would take a lot more money, time and resources to speak to all of your constituents if you represented 210,000 people compared to a district that has fewer than. 25,000.
This scare campaign, led by a group of former elected officials, is just another way to prevent working class people from running for office or having someone to represent their concerns. It also aims to scare people into believing that this change will solve all of our problems.
I admit that even as someone who has spent a lot of time working in non-partisan politics, I almost fell for their dangerous tactics. I love my city. I was born and raised here and am happy to be back after my stint at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
So when someone says, “Yes Fayetteville,” I immediately want to agree with them because of how positive it sounds; however, that is the danger of this campaign. The people who love and care about this city want to see positive changes: we want less crime, we want more jobs, and we want a happy and prosperous city. However, that is not the way to go.
As a young professional in this city, I ask myself: How are young people supposed to want to stay here if we continue to see regressive actions like “Yes Fayetteville” in the spotlight? A city growing as fast as Fayetteville shouldn’t be implementing policies so blatantly undemocratic that the US Department of Justice ruled they were discriminatory under the 1965 Voting Rights Act just a short time ago 15 years old.
I believe “Yes Fayetteville” will simply get more and more people to say “no” to our city. This is why I ask the members of this community which I care so much to remain aware of the danger of this campaign. If you are asked to sign a petition in support of the campaign, say no. If it goes to the ballot, vote no.
Remember: you are not saying no to Fayetteville, you are saying no to an effort that will harm our city.
Aja Bullock is the organizing program associate with Democracy NC. She lives in Fayetteville.
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