Politics & Government

Former Raleigh council candidate Tomasulo appointed to planning commission

Matt Tomasulo
Matt Tomasulo

The Raleigh City Council voted 5-2 this week to appoint Matt Tomasulo, an urban living advocate who recently ran for the council, to the city’s Planning Commission.

Council members Kay Crowder and John Odom voted for local attorney Steve Smith, while Russ Stephenson nominated Anthony McLeod.

The commission is a group of residents that advises the council on growth and development and is often a springboard for future council members. Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin nominated Tomasulo for the seat because of his youth and expertise in urban planning. The recent council election showed that young people feel like their voices aren’t being heard, she said.

Tomasulo, 33, runs Walk [Your City], a business that helps cities promote their walkability. He holds master’s degrees in landscape architecture and city and regional planning.

Reached by phone this week, Tomasulo said he’s looking forward to the commission meeting on Nov. 24, when he’ll assume the seat.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “Obviously I have a great interest in serving the city of Raleigh and contributing to its future.”

Tomasulo will replace J.B. Buxton, who also ran for a City Council seat and lost. Buxton is eligible for another term but declined to seek it. He thanked the council for appointing him during its meeting Tuesday, saying his four years on the commission “felt like eight years.”

Syrians welcome

There is room for Syrian refugees in Chapel Hill, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said again this week as Gov. Pat McCrory and two dozen other mostly Republican governors called for the federal government to halt resettlement in their states.

“Our community is a place for everyone,” Kleinschmidt said. “Being true to the values of our welcoming, open and peace-loving town requires us to speak out.”

The governors’ call came three days after the Paris terror attacks, in which one assailant had what was later found to be a fake Syrian passport. It’s unclear if the requests will slow plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. in the next year.

Kleinschmidt, who said he has faith in the nation’s security screening process, has been meeting with Muslim residents for several months, following the shooting of three UNC students earlier this year.

“Most are college students, some from faraway countries, others from small North Carolina towns, many local. All of them call Chapel Hill home,” Kleinschmidt said. “Their Muslim faith distinguishes them from others in our community, and unfortunately, in this political environment, it creates a heightened sense of vulnerability.”

Burns weighs in

Wake County Commissioner John Burns also took on Republican politicians who’ve opposed accepting more Syrian refugees by invoking Jesus and Christianity in a string of tweets this week.

Burns, a Democrat, tweeted multiple times about the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus talks about how a Samaritan helped a man who was beaten during a robbery. Burns tweeted that people should “do what the man says” and that politicians such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan “might need to read Luke 10:25-37 again.”

“Point of parable of the Good Samaritan is not to be a neighbor to your buddy. It’s to be a neighbor to those you have reason to fear. #WWJD,” Burns tweeted.

Burns used hashtags such as #WWJD and #ThingsJesusNeverSaid.

“When I said ‘the least of these,’ of course I didn’t mean anyone that makes you uncomfortable.’ #ThingsJesusNeverSaid,” Burns tweeted.

Burns accused politicians such as McCrory who oppose Syrian refugee resettlement of not applying their Christian values.

In response to a tweet by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Burns wrote that “1st question on the test to prove if one is Christian should be ‘Would you allow refugees entry?’”

Political events

▪ Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and District Court judges Dan Nagle and Jefferson Griffin will speak to the Western Wake Republican Club on Monday are at Rally Point Sports Grill, 1837 N Harrison Ave. in Cary. Dinner starts at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m.

Compiled by Paul A. Specht, Tammy Grubb and T. Keung Hui

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