Members of the Citizens for Equity in Government (CEG) would like to thank WHKY radio host Hal Row for his comments this past Thursday morning in relation to the petition drive for the Referendum to change the current electoral process for Hickory's City Council.
Hal had gracious words about those who went out and accrued the 2,707 signatures that secured the rights of the Citizens of Hickory to decide how future Hickory City Council Elections will be decided. A right that was not afforded to the Citizens of Hickory when the system was changed in 1967 and a right that the current Council was unwilling to afford without the procurement of this certified petition.
We all remember and thank Hal and WHKY for having the educational interview on about the petition drive on his First Talk program back last December. Without that interview, the success of the petition drive campaign most likely doesn't happen. Hal's interview, and the details that were shared that morning, generated a lot of buzz at that time and helped put this campaign on the radar, which helped obtain hundreds of signatures. Of course the holidays and the onset of Winter slowed progress some what over the next few months, but Hal's interview was always something to point to when addressing the legitimacy of this campaign.
In that interview, Billy Sudderth gives his reasoning for the formation of the Citizens for Equity in Government and Joe Brannock was able to discuss how the current voting structure came into existence. Joe continues with the history lesson of what happened back in the 1960s that has led us to where we are today and Billy talks about some of the political maneuvering that took place at that time. Billy talks about disenfranchisement and the lack of participation that he believes is a result of the current system.
Joe talked about perceptions and how he is white, Republican and young and Billy is black, a senior, and a Democrat and we need to cast off the labels to be able to move things forward. Joe talks about how 4 people on Hickory Council in 1967 made a decision that shut out citizen participation. There is currently no entry point into the pipeline of civic service. Joe interjects that council people can represent the City of Hickory at the same time that they directly represent their ward. Citizens of Hickory don't vote on members of Congress from other districts and yet these representatives represent the welfare of the entire State of North Carolina -- and the United States.
In Hal's comments from this past Thursday, he says that what we have done with this petition drive is patriotic. He says that we didn't just complain that we went out and did something to redress our grievances. He makes a point that he isn't saying that he supports Ward Specific Voting or how others should vote, but the petition process is good democracy in action. I am biased, but I couldn't agree more.
The next step will be when the City sets the date of the election and begins writing the language of the ballot. On July 3rd, David Hood, the chairman of the Catawba County Board of Elections, asked the City of Hickory to include members of Citizens for Equity in Government in this process, but added that the City was under no obligation to do so. He also asked that the City come forth with the date for the election sooner rather than later.
The CEG has asked to participate in this process, since the CEG is responsible for the petition and feels therefore that it has a role in shepherding its guidance. Everyone certainly hopes that the City of Hickory will do the right and above board thing and not play games with this issue. The ball is in the City's court and it is their Olive Branch to extend or not extend. It will tell us a lot about how the CEG will have to proceed with this process in the upcoming days. Will this be a fair process or will we see rancor? We live in interesting times!
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