Category: Elections

April 22nd, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern aldermen will start discussion on Tuesday over whether to change the method used to elect aldermen and the mayor from the nonpartisan election and runoff method it has been using, to the nonpartisan plurality method.

Under the present system, a candidate avoids a runoff if he/she wins 50 percent of the vote plus one extra vote.

The proposed system proclaims whomever wins the most votes as the winner.

If the city used this proposed method in the 2009 municipal election, then-Mayor Tom Bayliss would have won reelection, since he was the top vote getter in a three-way election.

Lee Bettis came in second, and the two faced each other in a run-off that Bettis won.

Under the proposed method, the chances of a fringe candidate winning an election go from unlikely, to much more likely, particularly if there are several candidates running.

On the other hand, a nonpartisan plurality method could increase the chances of African American candidate being elected mayor of New Bern, in cases where there is one African American candidate running against two or more white candidates.

The stated reason for the change is to save money. New Bern municipal elections are expensive enough already, being held in election years between any other elections.

Compounding that expense are runoff elections, which happen in New Bern more often than not.

Together, they cost New Bern taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Still, a run-off gives voters the chance to have a say in who represents them on the Board of Aldermen from among the top two candidates should there be a run-off.

Is that worth the added expense? Some may say yes. But judging from actual voter turnouts for municipal run-off elections, practically speaking, the answer may be no.

Here’s the city attorney’s memo to the board with details:

MEMORANDUM

TO: Mayor and Members of the Board City Manager

FROM: Michael Scott Davis, City Attorney

RE: Amendments to City Charter to Change Election Method

DATE:  April 17, 2019

The Board recently directed me to draft a resolution to change the municipal election method from the nonpartisan election and runoff method to the nonpartisan plurality method. Since North Carolina has a state statute that authorizes municipalities to amend their charters to change the election method from one of the four basic options (all on odd years), the Board has the ability to proceed with the charter amendment by following the statute, or by seeking a local bill from the General Assembly. The Board also has the option to call for a special election for the purpose of submitting the ordinance to a vote. Presuming that the Board wants to proceed to amend the charter consistent with the statutory authority, here are the required steps:

  • Adopt a resolution of intent to consider an ordinance amending the charter which also includes a call for a public hearing on the proposed charter
  • A notice of the public hearing shall be published at least once not less than 10 days prior to the date fixed for the public hearing, and shall contain a summary of the proposed amendments.
  • Following the public hearing, but not earlier than the next regular meeting and not more than 60 days from the public hearing, the Board may adopt an ordinance amending the charter to implement the amendments proposed in the resolution of
  • Within 10 days after an ordinance is adopted, the Board shall publish a notice stating that an ordinance amending the charter has been adopted and the notice must summarize the contents and effect of the
  • City clerk shall file a certified true copy of the charter amendment with the Secretary of State and the Legislative

In order for the ordinance to be effective at the next election, the amendment must be finally adopted and approved at least 90 days prior to election day.

RESOLUTION OF INTENT TO CONSIDER AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF NEW BERN TO CHANGE THE METHOD OF ELECTION FROM THE NONPARTISAN ELECTION AND RUNOFF METHOD TO THE NONPARTISAN PLURALITY METHOD AND SETTING THE DATE FOR A PUBLIC HEARING THEREON

THAT WHEREAS, pursuant to G.S. §160A-101 and §160A-102, the Board of Aldermen of the City of New Bern may adopt an ordinance to amend the Charter of the City of New Bern to implement any of the optional forms set out in G.S. §160A-101; and

WHEREAS, G.S. §160A-102 requires that proposed Charter amendments first be submitted to a public hearing and that due notice thereof be published not less than ten (10) days prior to the date fixed for the public hearing.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF NEW BERN THAT:

Section 1. The Board of Aldermen of the City of New Bern hereby intends to consider an ordinance amending the Charter of the City of New Bern, as set forth in Session Law 2016-41 of the General Assembly of North Carolina, to change the method of election from the nonpartisan election and runoff method to the nonpartisan plurality method as authorized by G.S.

  • 160A-101(7)b. It is proposed that at the regular municipal election to be held in 2021, the mayor and members of the Board of Aldermen shall be elected according to the nonpartisan plurality method.

Section 2. A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is hereby called in the City Hall courtroom at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

Section 3. Following the public hearing called hereby, the Board of Aldermen shall consider passage of the ordinance at its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall courtroom.

Section 4. The City Clerk is hereby directed to cause to be published in the Sun Journal a proper notice of the public hearing called, which notice shall contain a summary of the proposed Charter amendments.

ADOPTED THIS 23rd DAY OF APRIL, 2019.

 

DANA E. OUTLAW, MAYOR

BRENDA E. BLANCO, CITY CLERK

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Elections

April 9th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Five of six candidates seeking to replace the late Walter B. Jones in Congress appeared at a forum on Monday evening. Contributed photo

The Craven County Democratic Party hosted a forum on Monday night for the Democratic candidates running in the N.C. 3rd Congressional District special election.

Five of the six candidates for the Democratic nomination to finish the term of Walter Jones, Jr. were in attendance, discussing their plans on a broad range of issues including health care, the economy, protecting our eastern North Carolina shoreline, voting rights, and providing constituent services to the whole of the district.

Over 180 people were in attendance at the forum, which was held at Word of God Christian Center on Neuse Boulevard, and over 500 people also watched part or all of the forum streamed on Facebook Live.

Nelson McDaniel, left, moderated the forum. Contributed photo

The forum was moderated by long-time New Bern resident Nelson McDaniel, and timekeeping was managed by Brian Leonard. The MC for the evening was Charles Dudley, 1st Vice Chair of the Craven County Democratic Party, and Bishop Holly Raby of Word of God Christian Center offered an opening benediction and closing remarks.

“Tonight’s forum showed just how fortunate we are in the 3rd district to have such exceptional Democratic candidates,” Dudley said. “At tonight’s forum, the Democratic candidates put forward practical ideas to work together and make Eastern North Carolina a better place to live, work, and play.”

Dudley said, “When we compare that to the lack of ideas coming from the 17 candidates running in the other party, it’s clear that any of these five Democratic candidates we heard tonight would be a better representative for Eastern North Carolina than one of them. We’re ready and eager to work hard and get out the vote for whichever of these fine candidates ends up being the Democratic nominee in the special election.”

The Democratic primary is open to all registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters, and unregistered voters can register and vote at one-stop early voting. One-stop early voting for the April primary starts on Wednesday, April 10, at the Craven County Board of Elections. It will be available every weekday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. until Friday, April 26, except for Friday, April 19 when one-stop early voting will be closed. Election Day for the Democratic primary is April 30.

 

Posted in Elections, Politics

February 27th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Gov. Roy Cooper today announced new election dates to fill the seat in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, which has been vacant since Congressman Walter Jones, Jr. passed away earlier this month. 

“People in eastern North Carolina need a voice in Congress,” Gov. Cooper said. “We’re moving ahead so they can choose their new representative quickly.” 

Gov. Cooper issued a writ of election and proclamation directing that a special general election to elect a representative to serve out the remainder of the current two-year term for the Third Congressional District be held on July 9, 2019. 

Candidates seeking to fill the seat should file notices of candidacy with the State Board of Elections between March 4 and March 8, 2019. To nominate candidates, a special primary election will be held on April 30, 2019. Absentee voting for the special primary election will begin on March 15, 2019. 

The special general election would take place July 9, 2019, unless a primary runoff is required. If a primary runoff occurs on July 9, the special general election would then be held on September 10, 2019. 

Absentee voting for the July 9 election will begin on May 24, 2019. If the September 10 election date is needed, absentee voting will start on July 26, 2019.

Federal and state laws require the governor to schedule election dates to fill the vacant seat in the Third Congressional District. The State Board of Elections is responsible for scheduling a new election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District. 

Posted in Elections, New Bern, Politics

February 18th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

State Rep. Michael Speciale is seeking to fill the late Walter Jones’ unexpired seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Other candidates who have announced plans to run include Phillip Shepard and Philip Law. Michele Nix, vice-chairman of the NCGOP, is also reportedly preparing to announce her candidacy.

“After much encouragement and prayer, Michael Speciale of Craven County has decided to run for the U.S. House seat for District 3. This seat was left vacant by the untimely passing of Walter B. Jones,” Jones said in a news release.

Jones died Feb. 10 and his funeral was held Feb. 14. N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper must declare a vacancy on the congressional seat to exist and set a date for a special election to fill the remainder of Jones’ two-year term.

Speciale said he is known for standing up for what he believes is right for the people of his district. However, he has also said he does not represent people in his district with whom he disagrees. More on Speciale here, here, and here.

During his time at the state House of Representatives,

Speciale has backed legislation banning gay marriage, arming school teachers, and restoring North Carolina’s ability to leave the country.

According to Wikipedia, during a debate for an Anti-Puppy Mill Bill, which was a central focus for the First Lady of North Carolina, Ann McCrory’s legislative interests, Speciale stated: “Exercise on a daily basis – if I kick him across the floor, is that daily exercise? ‘Euthanasia performed humanely’ – so I should choose the ax or the baseball bat?”

Speciale said in his news release that he believes in God, country, family, the free market, personal responsibility and smaller government.

“He is unapologetic for what he believes and has made media headlines for standing strong for those positions. He is a strong constitutional conservative who remains true to those values that have made America great,” he said in his release.

Speciale is in his fourth term as the representative for the North Carolina House District 3 seat, which covers a large portion of Craven County.

He previously represented Beaufort and Pamlico Counties as well.

Speciale is Chairman of the Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, Vice-Chairman of State and Local Government, and a member of the Transportation, Elections & Ethics Law, Appropriations and Appropriations Justice, and Public Safety committees.

Speciale is the founder and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
Speciale is a retired Marine and a member of Freedom Baptist Church in Havelock.

He was twice elected as the Craven County Republican Party Chairman, is a former chairman of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA), as well as a graduate Fellow of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership (NCIOPL).

He is a graduate of Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) at Craven Community College, and he has an Associate in Applied Sciences in Business Management/Operations Management.

Speciale is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA).

He and his wife Hazel live in the New Bern area and have been married nearly 45 years. They have two children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Posted in Elections, Politics, State politics

February 9th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

The Board of Aldermen meets Tuesday for two separate sessions, a regular meeting starting at 6 p.m. and a work session covering utility rates starting at 3 p.m.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, here are some of the more interesting agenda items:

10. Presentation on NC Global TransPark Authority.

Allen Thomas, Director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (“GTP”), was scheduled to make a presentation before the Board last July, but cancelled due to illness. He has rescheduled that presentation for this meeting.

11. Presentation by Craven County Board of Elections.

Melani Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, will make a presentation that covers a cost analysis of the City’s election process. She will also discuss the advantages of changing from a nonpartisan election/runoff method to a nonpartisan plurality election.

12. Presentation on Downtown Parking Update.

(Ward 1) Billy Faulkenberry and Lynn Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, will update the Board on the downtown parking enforcement.

15. Presentation on Ban-the-Box.

Whitley Carpenter, Staff Attorney with The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will be joined by Corey Purdie and Angaza Laughinghouse to make a presentation on the Ban-the-Box movement.

Ban the Box is the name of an international campaign by civil rights groups and advocates for ex-offenders, aimed at persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record.

18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a License/Use Agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Ward 5) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has requested to lease office space at the old Water Resources building located at 2825 Neuse Boulevard. The proposed agreement provides for their use of the building through June 30, 2019 at no cost. FEMA will be using the office space to serve the citizens of New Bern and surrounding areas following the devastation from Hurricane Florence. 

Here is the full agenda:

CITY OF NEW BERN, 300 Pollock Street, P.O. Box 1129 New Bern, NC 28563-1129 . (252) 636-4000

Dana E. Outlaw Mayor

Mark A. Stephens City Manager

Memo to: Mayor and Board of Aldermen From: Mark A. Stephens, City Manager Date: February 8, 2019

Re: February 12, 2019 Agenda Explanations

1. Meeting  opened  by Mayor  Dana E. Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Mayor Outlaw. Pledge of Allegiance.

2. Roll Call.

3. Request and Petition of Citizens.

This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens. This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views. We value all citizen input.

Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period. At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium. Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member. Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.

In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation. If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Consent Agenda

4. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Neuse River Bridge Run.

(Ward 1) The Neuse River Bridge Run is slated for March 23, 2019. Accordingly, John Serumgard, Race Director, the event, has requested the 200 block of East Front Street be closed from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the 200 block of South Front Street be closed from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. The organizers also plan to hold a “Super Kids Run” on March 22, 2019 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Union Point Park, and the Director of Parks and Recreation has authorized the closure of the park streets during this time. A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached.

5. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Great Glow Run.

(Ward 1) Kathy Lewis, Officer Manager for Easter Seals UCP, has requested specific streets be closed on April 13, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. for the annual Great Glow Run. The streets to be closed are the 200-700 blocks of East Front Street, a portion of the 800 block of North Craven Street, 700-800 blocks of Howard Street, 100-600 blocks of Queen Street, and 600-800 blocks of George Street. This Easter Seals fundraiser also promotes awareness. A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached.

6. Consider Adopting a Revised Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Black History Month Parade.

(Ward 1) After receiving a request from Victor Taylor with Vision Forward, the Board adopted a resolution on January 22, 2019 to close specific streets on February 16, 2019 for the annual Black history Month Parade. That resolution failed to include approval of the requested rain date of February 23, 2019. The resolution has been revised to include this date, and all other information remains the same with respect to the affected streets. A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached along with copies of the application, a map of the parade route, and the resolution approved in January.

7. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Portions of Spencer Avenue for the Ghent Neighborhood Mardi Gras Parade.

(Ward 1) Michael Genest, President of the Ghent Neighborhood Association, has requested the 1400-2000 blocks of Spencer Avenue be closed to vehicular traffic on March 2, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the association’s annual Mardi Gras Parade and block party. A memo from Mr. Hughes, a copy of the application and a parade map are included in the backup documentation.

8. Approve Minutes.

Minutes from the January 15, 2019 special meeting, January 22, 2019 regular

meeting, January 26, 2019 special meeting, and January 26, 2019 annual retreat are provided for review and approval.

______

9. Presentation of Longevity Certificates.

Employment service is recognized at five-year increments. A roster is enclosed of all employees who are eligible to receive a service certificate for the period of July­ December 2018. Some of these employees will be present at the meeting, and certificates will be on hand for the Mayor to present. Sharon Koprowski, Assistant Director of Human Resources, will be available to assist with the presentation. The Board is asked to extend a handshake of appreciation to the employees.

10. Presentation on NC Global TransPark Authority.

Allen Thomas, Director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (“GTP”), was scheduled to make a presentation before the Board last July, but cancelled due to illness. He has rescheduled that presentation for this meeting.

11. Presentation by Craven County Board of Elections.

Melani Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, will make a presentation that covers a cost analysis of the City’s election process. She will also discuss the advantages of changing from a nonpartisan election/runoff method to a nonpartisan plurality election.

12. Presentation on Downtown Parking Update.

(Ward 1) Billy Faulkenberry and Lynn Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, will update the Board on the downtown parking enforcement.

13. Presentation on African American Heritage & Cultural Center of New Bern Project.

(Ward 1) Carol Becton, a representative with the African American Heritage & Cultural Center, will make a presentation on the center’s vision, as well as its plans to celebrate Juneteenth in 2019.

14. Presentation on Reliable Public Power.

Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, will make a presentation regarding the City’s application for the American Public Power Association’s designation as a Reliable Public Power Provider (“RP3”).

15. Presentation on Ban-the-Box.

Whitley Carpenter, Staff Attorney with The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will be joined by Corey Purdie and Angaza Laughinghouse to make a presentation on the Ban-the-Box movement.

16. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Human Resources Policy.

As a follow-up to the previous presentation, a Resolution approving a Human Resources Policy is proposed.

17. Receive Public Comment and Consider Adopting a Resolution Naming a Currently Unnamed Street as Sheryl Drive.

(Ward 4) In the area of Glenburnie Road, an unnamed street connects Elizabeth Avenue and Amhurst Boulevard. In 2013 and 2015, a proposed development named Quail Forest was reviewed and the right-of-way for this roadway dedicated, but not officially named. The proposed name, Sheryl Drive, was reviewed and approved by E911. Staff has met with adjacent property owners regarding the name proposal. It is requested the Board receive public comments on this naming and then consider adopting a resolution to establish the name.

18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a License/Use Agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Ward 5) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has requested to lease office space at the old Water Resources building located at 2825 Neuse Boulevard. The proposed agreement provides for their use of the building through June 30, 2019 at no cost. FEMA will be using the office space to serve the citizens of New Bern and surrounding areas following the devastation from Hurricane Florence.

19. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Accept a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure of Tax Lien.

(Ward 1) Craven County pursued foreclosure on 209 Lawson Street for delinquent ad valorem taxes owed to the County. At the time of the foreclosure, there were also delinquent taxes owed to the City. A commissioner’s deed was recorded on August 18, 2018 conveying the property to the County, which resulted in the City’s tax liens remaining intact. In order to avoid foreclosure by the City to collect those taxes, the County proposes a deed to convey the property to the City and County jointly, with the deed specifying the amount of both the County and City’s taxes, interest, liens, fees and costs as of August 18, 2018. The resolution authorizes the recording of the proposed deed and accepts the same in lieu of foreclosure of the City’s tax lien.

20. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the Installation of Additional Street Lights.

(Ward 5) Time McKean of 2800 Millinder Lane has requested additional street lighting at the intersection of South Glenburnie Road and Millinder Lane. The Department of Public Utilities evaluated the area and determined the current lighting does not meet the City’s light standard. The installation of one street light will cost approximately $574.96, and the monthly utility charge for service will be $8.44. A memo from Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, is attached along with other supporting documentation.

21. Appointment(s).

  1. Raymond Layton’s second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is ineligible for reappointment. Alderman Kinsey is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
  2. Sonny Aluzzo’s first term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is eligible for reappointment. Alderman Aster is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Aluzzo or make a new appointment for a three-year term.
  3. Jerry Walker’s first term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is eligible for reappointment. Alderman Bengel is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Walker or make a new appointment for a three-year term.
  4. Carol Williams’ second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and she is ineligible for reappointment. Alderwoman Harris is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
  5. Joseph Anderson has resigned from the Historic Preservation Commission. Alderman Bengel is asked to make an appointment to fill the remainder of Mr. Anderson’s term, which expires on June 13, 2019.
  6. Rose Williams’ appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission expired February 8, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. The appointee will serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.
  7. Mattie Tatum’s appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission will expire February 22, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. The appointee will serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.

22. Attorney’s Report.

23. City Manager’s Report. 

24. New Business.

25. Closed Session.

26. Adjourn.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Elections, FEMA, Infrastructure, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Planning and Zoning

October 19th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Haywood County precinct Chief Judge Debbie Stamey interacts with David Cairnes as he presents his photo ID at the Canton Public Library to vote in the March 15, 2016, primary election. Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

Shortly before adjourning this year’s General Assembly session in late June, legislative leaders announced a slate of ballot measures, six constitutional amendments in all.

Although some of the proposals had been discussed previously, others aimed a restructuring state government had not been discussed previously. They drew immediate criticism and, eventually, legal action that resulted in changes during another hastily called legislative session in late August.

The decisions in those cases were among the reasons the printing of this year’s ballot was delayed, and although the controversies were in the news for weeks, polling shows that voters know little about what the proposed amendments would do.

An Elon University poll of 1,523 registered voters released in early September showed that while 56 percent of respondents knew that amendments would be on the fall ballot, 62 percent of those responding said they had heard little or nothing about them. Only 8 percent said they had heard “a lot” about the amendments.

The survey also found that support for the amendments dropped as more details were explained.

Given the circumstances of this year’s referendums, voter confusion is understandable.

While North Carolina voters are used to occasional statewide referendums, they’ve seen only a few constitutional amendments over the past decade. There have been seven in this century, and only one, the 2012 marriage amendment, was the subject of a heated statewide campaign.

Almost all the constitutional questions in recent years have been the only ones on the ballot. The last time there was a major grouping of amendments was in 1985, when five amendments were proposed at the same time.

Further, all six of the amendments this year require follow-on legislation that has yet to be proposed, a novel position for North Carolina voters who in prior referendums had been given a better idea of the specific laws to follow, known in legislative parlance as “enabling legislation.”

MORE | CAROLINA PUBLIC PRESS

Posted in Elections

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