Up & Coming Weekly

November 01, 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 15 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM NOVEMBER 2 - 8, 2022 UCW 15 City Charter Amendment gives more representation by NAT ROBERTSON Fayetteville residents will have an important opportunity when they go to the polls on Nov. 8, or take advantage of early voting. e ballot will include a City Charter Amendment that will change the structure of the Fayetteville City Council from its current nine single-member districts to a combination of five single-member districts and four at-large seats. is change will ensure that ev- ery Fayetteville resident will have six council members reporting to them versus one and the mayor. at means if you have a problem, whether it be with trash pickup or public safety, you will have six council members accountable to you at the ballot box. We all agree that we need more representa- tion, not less. I had the honor to serve the City of Fayetteville as an at-large mem- ber, a district councilman and as mayor from 2013-2017. I served as a council member with both structures of government. With those real-life experiences, I have seen the advantages and disadvantages of both models. ere is no question that having a combined model with both at- large and single-member districts provides the best opportunity for success for our city. Fayetteville competes against other major North Carolina cities for good jobs, economic invest- ment and an enhanced quality of life. To be successful, we need to have the same tools and best practices that they use to lead their cities. Unfortunately, we find ourselves following behind these other cities as we spend excessive time dealing with district infight- ing and too little time on the key issues, and the big picture that prevent us from keeping pace with the rest of the state. Nine of the 12 largest cit- ies in the state have at-large members as a part of their city council structure. Practically all of the local governments in Cumberland County also include at-large members. ey include the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, the Cumberland County Board of Education, and the towns of Hope Mills and Spring Lake. None of these enti- ties are considering the elimina- tion of their current at-large seats because they see that a balanced approach — with both at-large and single-member districts — works best for them. e remaining five single-mem- ber districts will continue to pro- vide attention to district issues. e target population of around 42,000 residents for each of the five districts is far lower than the Cumberland County Board of Commissioner districts with an average target population of 64,500 or the Cumberland County School Board with an average of 55,760 residents. Fayetteville residents will no longer have to live in gerryman- dered districts where City Coun- cil members choose their own voters. is results in numerous neighborhoods and even voting precincts being split in order to promote incumbent protection, fostering civic disengagement and voter apathy. Quite honestly, it's confusing for everyone almost ev- ery time we have the opportunity to go to the polls. Equally important is the fact that there would be a balance on the City Council with half (5) of the council members also charged with looking at the big picture and addressing citywide issues that continue to hold us back, be- cause they don't get the attention needed, at the urgency we need. Successful candidates for the at-large seats will have to spend time educating themselves about the entire city, not just one of the districts. ey will also be directly accountable to every Fayetteville resident at the next election. is accountability is sorely needed in our current City Council structure! To be competitive, Fayetteville needs a structure of government that allows us to compete with the other major cities in North Caro- lina. e Vote Yes Charter Amend- ment will provide you more voice and more representation on the City Council. I encourage you to join with me and Vote Yes on the City Charter Amendment on Nov. 8. Editor's Note: Nat Robertson is a former Mayor of Fayetteville (2013 to 2017). He also served as an at- large council member from 1989 to 1995, and the District 5 represen- tative from 1999 to 2001. COVER VOTE RON ROSS COUNTY COMMISSIONER Lowering Property Taxes, More SENIOR Citizens Programs Better Paying Jobs, Holding CHEMOURS Accountable For GEN-X Putting People First NAT ROBERTSON COMMENTS? Editor@upandcoming weekly.com. 910-484-6200

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