To whom it may concern about the Referendum on Ward Specific voting:
Those who support this referendum have always intended to remain calm, cool, and collected and just make the points of support in a clear manner and stick to the issue that this is about bringing representation to everyone in Hickory... No one really understands who the current council is representing, and not many think the Council really understands who they are representing other than a few specific interests. What we do know is that people of every demographic and characteristic and from every ward in this community signed this petition and we believe that they signed it because they feel disenfranchised. This disenfranchisement, we believe, is caused not as much by the character of this City Council, but because of the current system in place. The representation of the current council, or the lack thereof, has been tainted by the current flawed at-large system.
The Council is firmly entrenched in a box that not one of them understood until we brought this issue forward. They should recognize that this isn't personal and if they take a step back and realize that and look at this with an empathetic-objective eye, then maybe they might see where we are coming from.
The Council didn't even want the issue addressed. When the Ward Map Redrawing took place and we asked that they at least take a look at the Direct Ward versus At Large issue, they said that wasn't what they were here for and completely dismissed the issue and that is what forced us to start doing our homework. When the City refused to listen to citizen's concerns, they forced us to do our due diligence and reexamine ourselves and readdress what our mission really was. We should thank the Mayor and the City Council, because their steadfast refusal to listen to citizen concerns about representation forced us to look at where all of this began and from there, with the effort and research of Walter Witherspoon, we were able to find out about 1967. We were able to see that 4 City Council members thought that they knew what was best for the thousands of people in Hickory. The citizens of Hickory weren't allowed to make the determination about how their representatives would be voted upon, instead those who received the votes made the determination about how they would be elected. That is the definition of the Fox guarding the hen house.
All we are trying to do is make participation in local government more user friendly. Whether you are Black, White, Rich, Poor, Woman, Man, Baptist, Lutheran, or whatever, it isn't about labels. It is about the stake you have in this community. Everyone has something to contribute. This issue brings everyone together. It brings everyone in this community to the decision making table. It makes the representatives on City Council responsible and accountable to the people closest to them. It makes them attentive to the 6,700 people in their ward, instead of diluting that representation to a bloc of people outside of their ward. That will not dilute the interest of the City as a whole. We believe it enhances it. Ward empowerment is not a plus and minus affair. It is a plus and plus affair.