01 Report Card Mock UpOver 200 people representing the best of the best businesses, institutions, and organizations in Fayetteville and Cumberland Country assembled at the Crown Coliseum for our 24th Annual Best of Fayetteville Awards Party. In attendance, showing appreciation and extending congratulations to the honorees, were Shari Fiveash of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, Randy Fiveash, interim President of the Fayetteville Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Jackie Warner, Mayor of Hope Mills. No one representing the City or Cumberland County was there. Personal invitations were not issued, nor were they required.

Over the years, our elected city and county officials were more than anxious to attend any prestigious local event that showcased the people, businesses, institutions and organizations that define the quality of life in our community. After all, it is a congregation of their constituents. Or is it? Fayetteville is currently struggling with that question, even though everyone is quite aware of the answer.

And, that is NO!

With our city divided into nine separate and distinct districts, I'd wager each council member wouldn't find six attendees living or working in their specific section. And, with this being the case, why bother showing up all? Unfortunately, this thought process has become the mindset of most of our current elected officials of the Fayetteville City Council. This situation and mindset must change if Fayetteville as a community is to grow and prosper.

You can't grow and become a great City if you leave entire segments of the community behind.

Bobby Hurst, a former five-term City Councilman in District 5, recently reminded us of this dire warning and prediction that resonated nearly a decade ago from the Fayetteville City Council's 2012-2013 budget meeting. Sadly, that prediction has become a sad reality as nine individual districts try to govern over 210,000 residents by focusing only on the needs of their ward while ignoring major issues and situations affecting the entire city.

It's a matter of record that Fayetteville's growth is not keeping pace with the rest of the cities in the state. There is a reason for that. The City of Fayetteville has an inferior and embarrassing Report Card when it comes to leadership and management:

We cannot become a better city by continuing to leave people behind. By focusing on each of the nine individual districts, they are collectively ignoring major citywide issues.

Image above by Dylan Hooker.

Ultimately, our horrific statistics will continue to worsen unless collective voices are heard regarding the future of our city. Fayetteville residents from all districts will suffer and die due to this poor governance, unabated homicides and neglected infrastructure maintenance like stormwater unless the citizens vote to change the structure of city government by designating four of the nine citywide districts as At Large districts. This would give Fayetteville residents six votes when it comes to elections rather than two. What's not to like about that? A Fayetteville resident gets to vote for five council members and the mayor rather than just voting for the mayor and one district representative. Common sense dictates that it's a shame we even have to make such an argument. However, I just did.

I encourage you to sign the Vote Yes Fayetteville petition at www.voteyesfayetteville.com and give every citizen (Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, rich or poor) the right to vote on this critical issue. Fayetteville's future depends on it, and you can rely on that.

In closing, let me say that even though we currently have a terrible report card, it definitely can be improved just like any other academic institution: i.e. Get a better curriculum. Hire better teachers and, if need be, replace the principal. We have plenty of options. The best one yet: 6/4 Vote Yes Fayetteville.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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