Publisher's note: I have yielded my space this week again to Fayetteville resident Lois Kirby. I am pleased with the fact that citizens like Lois are starting to speak up and speak out about how they feel about our city and its leadership.
I encourage all citizens to step up and speak out and use the First Amendment and our community newspaper as vehicles to have their voices heard.
For 27 years, we have prided ourselves in allowing the entire community, regardless of political affiliation, to use our publication to weigh in on how they feel about living and working in the Fayetteville community.
Enjoy, and we hope we hear from you in the near future. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.
The most sacred of bonds are often broken when there is a lack of transparency in any relationship.
For the past few decades, this lack of transparency has eroded trust and led to suspicions of unethical or illegal activity in Fayetteville’s city government.
One only needs to look at the poor turnout at Fayetteville municipal elections to realize what is happening. Trust and faith in leadership is a state of mind involving confident expectations. In Fayetteville’s case, do the mayor, city council representatives and city staff members act prudently on our behalf, using good judgment, honesty and benevolence?
Unfortunately, for the most part, the mayor and our city council representatives are no longer easily accessible and prefer to be contacted only through an e-mail address at city hall. This leads to the impression that they like to isolate themselves from the general public. Retreating hastily through the back door of city hall upon adjournment of city council meetings tends to reinforce this.
Accessibility and transparency should begin when a council member or candidate asks for your vote, money and your trust. After being elected, accessibility and transparency should remain top priorities throughout their service. Everyone knows trust is the foundation of any strong relationship, and transparency is critical to building that trust.
Competent leadership requires knowledge, talent, sound judgment, humility and the desire to make a positive difference. I doubt many Fayetteville residents know that Fayetteville’s mayor Mitch Colvin will meet with his constituents by appointment only, and only on Mondays for fifteen minutes. (So much for accessibility.)
In addition, many residents complain that when important phone calls are placed to city management and the city attorney’s office, they are seldom returned. This is why tax-paying residents tend to become skeptical and lose trust and confidence in the leadership responsible for municipal management.
Being ignored by our elected officials often prompts a “us vs. them” attitude. It’s crucially important to understand the power and influence that the mayor and city council have on our lives when making critical decisions about routine city services like property taxes, policing and public safety, garbage collection, stormwater and zoning.
As an elected body, it’s the job of each council member to represent and encourage people to participate in decision-making while considering the needs of the community and those who might choose to live here in the future.
Understanding the responsibilities of a city council representative and the obligations that come with the position should be clear before anyone asks for the privilege to serve the public.
Fayetteville could not exist without the taxes collected from residents — these taxes support and foster economic growth, giving our city vitality. Fayetteville citizens should demand our elected officials be open and transparent about their policies and decisions and explain how they will impact the Fayetteville community. Closed-session meetings should only be held if a personnel or legal matter is to be discussed.
Holding meetings closed to the public only perpetuates the idea that the council has something to hide. A lack of transparency should not be tolerated.
The Fayetteville mayor and all the city council members should listen closely to their constituents and operate more openly and ethically. They should understand the impact of every decision they make and its effect on the prosperity and well-being of taxpaying citizens.
It’s apparent, and most unfortunate, that Mitch Colvin and the city council have little regard for this notion, nor are they inclined even to address the issues most important to the citizens of Fayetteville. i.e., property crimes, homicides/public safety, homelessness, to name a few.
I want to remind everyone that this upcoming municipal election is extremely important (Primary Oct. 10, Candidates Forum Oct. 19, Election Day Nov. 7) and will decide the future of our city. Know the candidates and vote wisely!
Editor’s note: Lois Kirby is a former City Council member representing District 5, and former Mayor Pro Tem.