01 vote No on YesOur city is currently being flooded with a disingenuous campaign to change the structure of our City Council. You might have received a mailer asking for your signature in support of changing local elections from district-based to a hybrid model of district and at-large elections.

To recap, district elections mean that individuals within specific neighborhoods will elect someone to represent them downtown. At-large means that the whole city gets to vote for a candidate.

Fayetteville does NOT need to change how we elect our local representatives. Let's not fall victim to the arguments presented by the Vote Yes Fayetteville committee.

Let's talk about those arguments.

To begin, there is no connection whatsoever between crime in Fayetteville and the way we elect our municipal representatives. There is crime in cities and towns regardless if they have district or at-large elections. This is a scare tactic to make you think that the city is out of control which is not.

According to the 2020 Fayetteville Police Department's Annual Report, crime in our city has been in a five-year decline. This report was compiled by a Police Department that received an increase in their budget this year.

Citizens in Fayetteville can contact and share their opinions with ALL members of City Council. Our elected officials constantly discuss issues outside their own district. Changing our elections will not fix the issue of priority focus, it will worsen them.

Running a political campaign at-large versus a district wide campaign requires BIG MONEY. This means that at-large representatives will focus more on obtaining sufficient finances for an election that happens every two years rather than the needs of our city.

Besides, who do you want to represent YOU? Someone that lives and understands your community or someone who simply has the money to run and win? The financial interests of at-large candidates will overshadow the interests of marginalized communities.

There is a criticism about our district maps and how they are gerrymandered and confusing to voters. According to the Census Data and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, our city districts have to be redrawn anyway based on population changes. This issue can be fixed by showing up to the City Council's redistricting meetings and advocating for our communities.

Changing the structure of our elections is not needed at all. The institution that creates the biggest confusion among voters is the N.C. General Assembly, not how we elect our local leaders.

The purpose behind this push is to take away the power of communities across our city. It is insulting to utilize the election of our two African-American mayors as a talking point. Marshall Pitts Jr. and Mitch Colvin have a combined leadership of 8 years in a city first settled in 1783.

Do not sign the petition.

Vote "NO" to "Vote Yes."

Jimmy Buxton is the President, Fayetteville Chapter, NCAACP.

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