Regarding the Jan. 23 Point of View “Killo site sale another blow to East Raleigh residents”: Dan Coleman brings important points to the public discourse, but one aspect of his message will benefit by being redefined. This is not a battle between the haves and have-nots. This characterization takes focus off the levers of power and policymaking, which are being pulled in ways that do not well serve members of our community – have or have-not.
At their January retreat, City Council members contemplated the importance of teamwork and leading through consensus. The past council’s focus on consensus-driven governance was problematic. Raleigh’s city leaders have exhibited a lack of resolve to commit to bold plans and instead focus on policies that often exacerbate problems. This does not diminish the council’s hard work, but it does suggest the value of rethinking past approaches that have yielded little. All stakeholders in District C and beyond will be better served by recognizing it is not a battle between the haves and have-nots but rather a struggle to support our elected officials in governing for the common good.
Martin Luther King Jr. observed: “Ultimately, a genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus.” Searchers for consensus hear all sides and try and do what’s popular, expedient and politic – resulting in leadership shortcomings that inadvertently encourage problems to become further entrenched. Civic-minded leaders hear all sides and mold consensus to serve the common good – resulting in getting the right things done.
Our hope is that the new City Council:
▪ Tempers the traditionally destructive and divisive forces of gentrification and nurtures growth and development that place a high value on neighborhoods and communities already in existence. New affordable housing models and plans are our top priority.
▪ Preserves public space. Until the City Council ends the practice of treating public space as a natural extension of private enterprise, our future will continue to be diminished.
▪ Recognizes the city will not be walkable or sustainable as long as there is no grocery store downtown and the council fails to adopt a comprehensive strategy to develop diversified retail.
▪ Discourages the homogenization of Raleigh’s downtown and abutting neighborhoods into one all-encompassing entertainment district and instead opting to lead the city toward the vision set forth in the Downtown Experience Plan: nurturing neighborhoods with unique character and providing opportunities for households of varied age and incomes to lead healthy, productive and fulfilling lives including growing up and growing old.
It will take citizens from every neighborhood and community setting high expectations for accountability to achieve the outcomes Coleman advocates. This goal requires that the challenge we face be called by its true name: a failure in leadership by the past council and in more citizens not advocating the common good. Mischaracterizing our situation as the battle between the haves and have-nots focuses efforts where the hoped-for results cannot be found.
Frances Lonnette Williams
Chairperson, Central CAC
Vice chair, Central CAC
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the Point of View.