4 Publisher's Note:
Unfortunately, lies and misrepresentations of the Vote Yes initiative are creating a significant injustice for the Black community, by the Black community.
In essence, this proposal to add four at-large seats on the council with five district seats is not a racial issue by any stretch of the imagination. Approving and passing this proposal will allow every Fayetteville citizen to have a voice in choosing Fayetteville's elected officials.

Under the current system, citizens get only two votes. Under the proposed plan, each citizen would receive six votes. One for Mayor, one for their district council member, and four at-large council members. Every citizen benefits!

Much discussion lately has been aimed at low voter turnout at the polls during election time. The presumed blame falling mostly on “apathetic and lazy citizens.” Not so. With 10 elected officials running our city, we ask citizens to leave their homes, families and places of employment and travel to a precinct polling location to cast a ballot for only two out of 10 candidates. Fayetteville residents obviously do not see the value in that, yet those currently on the city council ignore this fact so as not to weaken or jeopardize their position.

As a result, thousands of residents are being represented (or misrepresented) by unqualified candidates elected by only a few hundred votes or less.
For our community to move forward into a prosperous 21st century, we need good ethical people with common sense, intelligence and leadership abilities.
Without it, crime, overall community safety, homelessness, affordable housing, infrastructure and stormwater issues and trash-litter problems will continue to escalate throughout our city.
— Bill Bowman, Publisher

 

The term “democracy” comes from two Greek words: "demos" (the people) and “kratia” (power and authority). So, democracy is a form of government that gives power to the people. Lately, America's democracy has been strained at all levels.

First, there's the U.S. House Jan. 6 committee hearing about an effort to overturn the 2020 elections. Second, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued some controversial opinions this term: upended a 50-year-old precedent on abortion, expanded gun rights for the first time in a decade, bolstered religious rights, notably those of Christians and declared that a violation of Miranda does not necessarily constitute a violation of the Constitution.
Passionate opinions have caused demonstrations on both sides of the issues. Democracy is a model form of government, but it's not a guarantee.

Life won't always go the way you want it to sometimes.
Democracy is supposed to allow all citizens an opportunity to have an equal voice, and it achieves that purpose most of the time. Democracy is imperfect but inherently and highly flexible.

What happens in Raleigh and Washington, D.C., gets most of the attention, but local government is the most important for several reasons.
First, municipal governments impact constituents far more frequently and positively than either state or federal legislators. Second, citizens can have far more influence at the local level than they ever will at higher echelons.

One-stop voting for Fayetteville's municipal election is from July 7 through July 23. The General Election is July 26. Voter turnout is predicted to be very low. The power rests with the people, but that power can't be realized if citizens don't vote. Fayetteville elected officials are presently under a council-manager form of government.
The council comprises the mayor and nine council representatives elected to single-member districts. Lately, the question has become, as Fayetteville is evolving, should it continue with all single-member districts, or is the time ripe for change? A Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative recently secured 5,007 signatures from city residents to change the Fayetteville City Council from nine single-member districts to a combination of five single-member districts and four at-large districts.

If the Vote Yes initiative is successful, Fayetteville City voters could cast six votes — one for Mayor, four for at-large council members and a district council member. Fundamental fairness dictates Vote Yes supporters deserve an equal voice, and we expect this matter to be on the November ballot.
The current council has 10 members — eight are African American, including the mayor. The mayor and several African-American council members have voiced concerns about the proposed change.
It is rumored heavily in the Black community that racism is behind the call for change since eight out of 10 present members of the council are African American.

Vote Yes supporters, including two former mayors, two former mayors pro tem and two past Fayetteville City Council members, deny the race allegation. The Vote Yes initiative began the signature collection process a year ago.
Is the proposed change about race? Thus far, the allegations appear unfounded. I know players on both sides of the issue, and I believe this is more about trust than race.

I fully understand some members of the Black community holding the white community as suspect, but declaring unfounded fears as racial motivation is unfair to both sides of the process.
Again, democracy ought to give power to the people and provide an opportunity for an equal voice.

Pause the racially-charged rhetoric and let the people decide at the polls. Indeed, the ability to raise enough money to run at large is not racial. It's economics.

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