Up & Coming Weekly

September 06, 2022

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 11 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM SEPTEMBER 7 - 13, 2022 UCW 11 Council member Johnny Dawkins, now Mayor Pro Tem, is nowhere near a new figure in local politics. Dawkins was first elected onto City Council in 2003. He was voted out in 2006 but rejoined in 2017. He also previously served as a former chairman of the Greater Fayetteville Cham- ber of Commerce. e first act of the new City Council was to approve Dawkins in the Mayor Pro Tem role. Dawkins says this position is usually given to the council member who has served the most amount of time. D.J. Haire and Kathy Jensen previously served as Mayor Pro Tems. As Mayor Pro Tem, Dawkins steps into the role of leading City Council meetings when the Mayor isn't able to be there. He also meets with the Mayor once a week as part of an advisory council — along with the City Manager and the City Attorney. One major priority for Dawkins is to continue the improvements in stormwater drainage. Dawkins previously served as the chairman of the stormwater advisory committee and continues to serve on the committee. He says they have gained some progress on the long list of projects that need to get done, but there are still quite a few more. "I've got over $10 million worth of projects right now going on, which is going to have some impacts. e problem is that, well, we really need to spend about $200 billion and there's no telling what that number is going to be by the time we get them done," Dawkins said. When it comes to public safety, Dawkins says that's also a topic to focus on. is term will be important as the city chooses a new police chief to replace current Police Chief Gina Hawkins. Another focus of public safety he wants to enforce is noise ordinance laws. "Our noise ordinance has not been en- forced for four or five years now, and that needs to change," Dawkins said. "I get more complaints about noise, I get 2 to 3 com- plaints a month for noise across our city. So I want us to enforce our noise [ordinance]." Dawkins says there is little the city can do regarding the homeless encampments, as they primarily happen on DOT property. "We physically can't take down the encamp- ment unless the person is a known felon or if there's an all-points bulletin for a person's arrest that has occurred in the last month, and we were able to arrest someone who was camping on the property," Dawkins said. However, there is a plan for the city to have its own daytime shelter. is homeless day resource center will support and centralize resources for citizens experiencing homelessness. e day center will be located at 128 South King Street. e day resource center will also be utilized for emergency shelter purposes when needed. "e feds were not happy that the county was not moving quickly on assisting the homeless. So the money was sent to the city after we agreed to accept. It was over $3 million. So that's going to be spent on, I call it Person Street extension. It's just a building we're renovating. And that's going to be our homeless day center and emergency shelter," Dawkins said. "I do think you're going to see movement these next 15 months on an agreement with the city and the county on this homeless shelter. We've got to work together to try to save money, even though it's not a constitutional responsibility of the city, for homeless people. However, the Mayor wants it to become more of a priority for the city. So that's going to be coming out of our city tax dollars. We do not get federal or state money for homelessness in our city." Economic development is another focus for Dawkins. He says the Amazon warehouse is a big step, but focusing on military con- tractors and subcontractors will be a plus for the community. Dawkins looks forward to the General Ob- ligation Bonds vote, and hopes it passes in order to get money for infrastructure. Dawkins will be leading the infrastructure committee which will help allocate funds to repair and build new streets, sidewalks and roads. He will be serving on the audit commit- tee, the appointment committee and will be leading the Cumberland Liaison Committee. He will also be on a few new boards the Mayor is bringing in this year. One is a mili- tary advisory committee. e other is the Unified Development Ordinance. "is affects our builders and develop- ers in the city, whereas they have to have required green space, they have to have side- walks, they have to have retention ponds. If they are more than three lots being devel- oped, there's lots of regulations on builders, what they can build in the city," Dawkins said. When it comes to the Vote Yes referen- dum — a proposed change to have at-large members on the council — Dawkins voted in favor of the issue being on the ballot. In the emergency meeting Sept. 2, Dawkins voted against appealing Cumberland County Supe- rior Court Judge Jim Ammons' decision to have the referendum appear on the Novem- ber ballot. "My position is I want people to vote yes or no on whether to have at-large seats," Dawkins said. "e decision should be left up to the voters." e North Carolina Court of Appeals should be releasing a decision on Sept. 9 on the referendum. For District 5 residents, Dawkins wants them to know that they can reach out to him at any time and to know that the city is continu- ing to grow. is includes parks, senior centers and more job opportunities. "I want everybody to enjoy their life journey and I want them to be successful in their careers. And I've found that if you have more grain in your back pocket, you're happier, and you're able to do more things for your family." e next city council meeting will be on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. City Council District 5: Dawkins speaks on new committees, public safety and responsibilities by HANNAH LEE NEWS HANNAH LEE, Assistant Editor. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200. "My position is I want people to vote yes or no on whether to have at-large seats. e decision should be left up to the voters." — Johnny Dawkins, City Council District 5 and Mayor Pro Tem

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