Harrisburg neighbors feel “unheard” after a recent appointment


HARRISBURG, NC (WJZY) – Neighbors in Harrisburg say they feel unheard after the appointment of a new city council member.

On Monday, the City Council appointed Republican Pastor Mike Thevenin to the vacancy left by Democrat Diamond Staton-Williams. Staton-Williams left her seat after being elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives. She was one year into a four-year term.

The City Council is tasked with appointing an interim replacement whenever there is a vacancy on the council. Although they are not required to hold public hearings on their selections, some question whether their appointments are in line with voters’ wishes.

According to Mayor Jennifer Teague, the city asked for letters of interest before selecting a person for the job. Four people expressed interest, including Pastor Thevenin. After a private email to City Council members asking them to review the letters and provide their recommendations, Mayor Teague canceled a public meeting called specifically to review potential candidates.

“After listening to each council member individually, there was one name that came to the fore, and that’s why I canceled the meeting for last Friday,” Mayor Teague said at Monday’s board meeting.

Thevenin was sworn in during the first five minutes of Monday’s City Council meeting before there was an opportunity for public comment.

“The problem is that voters are not being heard,” said Kim Biondi, a Cabarrus County resident associated with Red, Wine and Blue NC, an organization dedicated to empowering suburban women in local politics. “I think they could have avoided all of this if they had just held a public meeting.”

Before her departure, Staton-Williams was one of two Democrats on the eight-member board. Councilman Rick Russo, another Democrat, was the only one against Thevenin’s appointment.

“I just don’t think he aligns with Diamond’s values, issues or position on any issue,” he told Queen City News.

Russo also says he was never made aware of the rest of the council election, despite asking Mayor Teague to prompt him for the discussion.

“I emailed her two days before the meeting and asked, ‘Can you tell me who everyone agreed on?’ She said, “No. Five people agreed on one person, and one person agreed on another,” Russo said.

Mayor Teague told Queen City News that he recommended Thevenin to the rest of the board.

Prior to her appointment, Staton-Williams released a statement expressing her desire to see another woman of color appointed to the board of directors.

“The people of Harrisburg elected a woman of color and they deserve a woman of color to represent them,” the message read in part.

Following Thevenin’s appointment, Staton-Williams told the Queen City News, “I find the developments I’ve read surrounding the appointment of Pastor Mike Thevenin to the Harrisburg City Council to be interesting. I have urged and will continue to urge residents to pay attention to the council and council meetings.”

According to Mayor Teague, Thevenin is a longtime resident of Harrisburg, working in the community as associate pastor of Multiply Church Harrisburg, participating in the Harrisburg Civic Academy and currently serving on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Thevenin will serve in Staton-Williams’ seat for 11 months, and then voters will choose who will complete the final two years of her term in the November election. Four other council seats are also up for a vote.

Harrisburg neighbors feel “unheard” after a recent appointment

Source link Harrisburg neighbors feel “unheard” after a recent appointment