To the Editor,
Mount Airy City Council races are supposed to be non-partisan, but a look at this year’s election says the opposite. Okay, they are not the R and D parties, but instead it is the special downtown interests that have formed a slate of candidates and worked the election process to their advantage.
During the filing period it became known to the public that the entire City Council opposed going beyond the Spencers property for downtown redevelopment, except for Steve Yokeley (jointly and concurrently holding positions as City Commissioner, Mayor Pro-tem, Interim Mayor, Redevelopment Commission member, and Redevelopment Commission Chair). In the final days of filing, two new candidates emerged, aided by the President of Mount Airy Downtown, Inc. (MAD). These candidates were presented and their redevelopment position highlighted at a special forum presented by MAD and the young professionals.
And, lo and behold, a write-in candidate appears just in time for the election. Surprise, surprise, they now are all on a card-sized promotion piece promoting the entire slate as “Vote for Progress,” a piece that violates election law. I believe this group was recruited with the specific objective to develop at public expense the wider area beyond the Spencers property, as supported by Steve Yokeley.
I have never seen write-in candidates invited to political forums, but the millennials did and the chamber did so last week. Joe Reid cares so much about serving that he has not seen fit to attend any council meetings, and the other two first-timers did not attend till after they filed. These are one-note candidates recruited to sing the song of massive government development downtown.
For months Yokeley has been saying keep an open mind about the Development Commission, but now he has a slate to support his wishes and he has had the Commission change its rules so that he can continue to be on the Redevelopment Commission even if he is no longer a City Commissioner, which would occur if he is elected mayor. If this is not your idea of an open mind, VOTE Tuesday for David Rowe.
I am sure the special interests have already voted en mass, but if you care about open and responsive government, please vote Tuesday and block this veiled takeover. Consistently the citizens have stated they do not want the wide area redevelopment beyond the Spencers property, yet this selected slate wants otherwise. Your turnout Tuesday will affect the next four years of government spending of your money.
I was willing to have a change this year to allow new people to serve, but this takeover attempt I find to be the worst kind of politics. If you have to sneak and hide and even lie to get elected, you do not deserve it. The specific lie I mention came at the chamber forum when Joe Reid claimed he entered the race at the last minute after he was inspired at the millennial forum. His supporters were passing out preprinted vote for Joe pieces in the lobby of the playhouse at the forum.
I know what I am getting when I vote for Brinkley, Brown, and Armbrister. They have served and shown themselves as understanding of the issues and honest in their conduct. They are not perfect, but they are known factors. I believe David Rowe will be an asset to government. Don’t grumble, VOTE.