Raleigh City Council wants to give itself an extra year in office. Without public input.

·4 min read

Raleigh council

Elections are how we hold elected officials accountable. Without public input, Raleigh City Council decided to ask the General Assembly to postpone the 2021 city election, giving them an extra year-plus in office.

Even-year elections have some merit, but this change shouldn’t be made to keep the current council in power. If we’re going to make changes to local elections, let’s make ones that benefit Raleigh residents. Improvements to our elections include ranked choice voting, a larger council to represent our growing city, and certainty about term lengths.

Thanks goes to David Cox, the sole member on the City Council who objected to this unwarranted delay. The two-year city council term was a social contract, a promise that has been broken.

Jane Harrison, Raleigh

Raleigh elections

The push by the Raleigh mayor and City Council to postpone elections is very disturbing and inappropriate. There is another simple alternative. If there truly is a need to get onto the even-year cycle, the ethical approach would be to make this November’s election for a one-year term. Then in 2022, move to the two-year even year cycle.

Stan C. Kimer, Raleigh

Expand districts

With the possibility of the Raleigh City Council elections being postponed, now is an excellent time to expand the number of districts in the city from five to at least 10.

When the current council size of eight members was established around 1973, Raleigh had a population of about 130,000. Now, it has a population of more than 500,000.

With the unwise demise of the Citizen Advisory Councils, it has become more difficult for the citizens of Raleigh to provide input to the City Council. Most people I know say that when they send a message to a city council member they rarely get a reply. One reason may be the large number of citizens each council member represents.

With a larger city council, more citizen input may be possible.

Alan Tharp, Raleigh

Jobless benefits

The N.C. legislature has moved to stop the $300 federal unemployment supplement before it expires in September.

The rationale given by Republicans is anecdotal and not confirmed by legitimate research. Nevertheless, they claim people are unwilling to come back to their jobs — mainly in the restaurant industry — because the federal supplement is “overly generous.”

In the current stage of the economic recovery the vast majority of those getting the federal benefit are unable to secure jobs paying livable wages. This policy will hit minorities, single mothers and other already victimized groups especially hard.

It will also impact the restaurant industry as millions who lose benefits will no longer able to eat in restaurants.

Jane Stevenson, Chapel Hill

Speeding penalties

I have been flabbergasted by the News & Observer series on serial speeders and the damage and pain they inflict on innocent drivers, bystanders and families.

I understand why law enforcement officials are loath to pursue criminal charges in court, knowing that the offense can be reduced or dismissed for something as bogus as “speedometer error.”

If someone commits a citable offense, he/she should pay a fine, perform community service, and/or have points removed on his/her driver’s license after six months if no subsequent offenses.

If a licensed driver is cited for multiple offenses, their license should be suspended/revoked with non-negotiable fines and/or imprisonment.

Our legislators need to change these laws so that no more families or loved ones have to endure the pain and loss because someone chose to be irresponsible.

Robert Platt Jr., Raleigh

Speed cameras

I recently returned to North Carolina after a time in Maryland where speed cameras were remarkably effective.

The CDC says, speed cameras reduced total crashes 8 to 49% and fatal and serious-injury crashes 11 to 44% percent, in studies that compared pre- and post-crash data collected near camera sites.

These devices pay for themselves and release police to attend to other matters. I confess to cussing profusely over the first two years of receiving these fines, but I adjusted my driving accordingly.

No doubt, any legislator who has the courage to implement these cameras will be cussed profusely. So, legislators, do you have the courage to lead, or are you happy to tolerate the deaths, injuries and property damage caused by speeding?

G. Wilson Gunn Jr., Durham

Family land

Regarding “Protecting heirs’ land may be harder in NC than in other states,” (June 2):

If current N.C. property law leaves 86.5 million acres of family land unprotected from real estate speculators, that law needs to be changed.

If the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act places additional burdens on our clerks of courts, resources need to be applied to lighten their load.

There is no reason why N.C. land owners should not receive all the protections given to family land that 18 other states have provided. As a lifelong North Carolinian, I want a legislature that acts on behalf of its people, and protection of family land should be a measure that our General Assembly is eager to support.

Susan Davis, Apex