Incoming commissioners mum on race-related ordinances
Many of the Triad’s incoming county officials are choosing to remain mum about their thoughts concerning ordinances directly addressing racial strife in their respective communities.
This comes as a number of communities throughout the state have responded to the summer of protests, brought on by the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd, by formally condemning systemic racism.
“I don’t think that is something we necessarily need to do in our area,” said incoming Alamance Commissioner John Paisley, adding that the primary focus of local officials should be to bring people together after weeks of division. Paisley said he doesn’t believe ordinances focusing on racism would accomplish that.
“First of all, I think all sides after this election need to calm down,” Paisley said. “It’s been relatively calm, since the 60s. And I don’t think we have a major racism problem in this county.”
Paisley’s sentiments come a little over a week after the town of Graham made national headlines due to local law enforcement using pepper spray against demonstrators marching to the polls. Since then, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office has met with church leaders to discuss future best practices in regards to de-escalation methods, among other things.
Paisley alluded to the Oct. 30 march, but said it wasn’t indicative of any issues within the community.
“But I think, particularly with outside agitation that took place prior to the election, things were stirred up tremendously mostly from outside sources,” Paisley said. “I think that’s regrettable. I think now that the election is over, outside interference will calm down or maybe even stay away. Who knows?”
Paisley went on to reiterate his belief that the Alamance community didn’t need a formal resolution condemning matters of race. Commissioners in other parts of the state disagreed.
Earlier this summer, Asheville officials made national waves when the small city announced their plans to set aside funds for a limited reparations program.
“On July 14, Asheville City Council unanimously passed a Resolution supporting community reparations for Black Asheville,” reads an excerpt from Asheville’s website about the resolution. “The resolution acknowledges systemic racism present in the community, as well as nationally. The resolution directs the City Manager to establish a process to develop short-, medium-, and long-term recommendations to specifically address the creation of generational wealth and to boost economic mobility and opportunity in the Black community.”
In Mecklenburg County, commissioners declared racism a public health crisis, a sentiment that was echoed in Charlotte, the state’s largest city. Bladen County is the most recent to pursue language deeming racism a public health nuisance. Bladen County commissioners will vote on the resolution this coming Monday.
In Randolph County, recently elected District 5 representative Maxton McDowell echoed Paisley’s sentiments.
“For my district, I don’t think that’s a problem … in this point in time,” McDowell said.
Both McDowell and Paisley were uncharacteristically candid, compared to other newly-elected public officials.
“Hold on, hold on, hold on,” said Alamance’s newly-elected Commissioner Pamela Thompson. “Until I am sworn in, I’m just going to wait until I am sworn in. The votes can switch and, in this day and time, I could be the last vote getter. I’m not even a commissioner until Dec. 7.”
In Davidson County, weeks after a summer of protests that lead to the removal of a Confederate monument in Lexington, newly-elected county commissioner James Shores said he needed more information before making a decision.
“I don’t actually get sworn in until the first week of December,” Shores said before saying he would be open to discussing anti-racism ordinances after reading more about them.
Newly-elected Randolph County Commissioner Kenny Kidd and newly-elected Alamance County Commissioner William Lashley Jr. could not immediately be reached for comment.
From Dayson Pasión:
Alamance Burlington Equity Advisory Council
I told you I’m not waiting to get elected to do the work of creating a more equitable public education system for our students and families. Something that I talked about and proposed during the campaign is the formation of an equity advisory council that is community-led and would make recommendations to district leadership. So let’s get to work. It’s going to take all of us.
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