Fayetteville City Council Catchup: Speakers voice opposition to increasing term lengths
A public hearing on increasing Fayetteville City Council term lengths drew nearly 30 speakers to Monday night's meeting, the majority of whom opposed the proposition.
The hearing stemmed from a resolution introduced by Councilman Derrick Thompson in March that would increase terms for council members from two years to staggered four-year terms. Council members Mario Benavente and Kathy Jensen voted against the resolution last month.
Twenty-eight residents addressed the council Monday night, with 22 opposing the proposed term length increase. Among those in opposition were former county Commissioner Charles Evan and former Councilwoman and county Commissioner Juanita Gonzalez.
Former Councilwoman Yvonne Kinston said any increase should not happen without voter input.
“The citizens deserve a vote,” she said.
Christian Mosley, a local activist, said it was unfair of council members to expect an increase in term length without first proving to voters why they deserved to stay in office. Of the 10 council members, which includes Mayor Mitch Colvin, four are in their first term in office.
“I’m not here just to oppose the term limits,” he said. “Your lack of integrity has been acknowledged and noticed.”
Many speakers noted that previous attempts to increase council members’ term lengths in Fayetteville have failed. In 2018, 64.58% of voters rejected such a proposal, according to data from the State Board of Elections.
The council will vote at its April 24 regular meeting on whether to put the referendum before voters, according to City Attorney Karen McDonald.
City approves electric scooters and bikes
Also at Monday's meeting, council members voted 8-2 to approve a one-year pilot program that allows vendors to rent out electric scooters and bikes in downtown Fayetteville.
Potential vendors can apply for a permit through the city, the cost of which will be determined in June when the council votes on the city’s annual fee schedule. The scooters and bikes can be operated from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and vendors must provide docking stations, according to a presentation by assistant economic and community development director Taurus Freeman. Riders must be 16 and cannot operate the scooters or bikes on sidewalks, Freeman said.
More: Fayetteville plan to bring scooters downtown moves forward. Here's what that could look like.
The city has the right to revoke a vendor’s permit at any time for safety violations, though the vendor can appeal that revocation to City Manager Doug Hewett, Freeman said.
Council member Mario Benavente said he believed the program will help Fayetteville mirror bigger cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, which already have similar programs.
“I think having these devices downtown is a way to showcase to everyone that Fayetteville’s moving forward,” Benavente said.
Public safety reporter Lexi Solomon can be reached at ABSolomon@gannett.com.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Fayetteville City Council talks term lengths, electric scooters