Three years ago on February 4, 2020 Mayor Baldwin and her City Council majority voted to stop supporting Raleigh’s Citizen Advisory Councils (CACs). The residents who ran these Councils and the development community were also told to stop working together. No more new rezoning cases were supposed to be presented at the now defunded CACs. This vote was planned in secret behind closed doors by Mayor Baldwin and Councilors Saige Martin, Nicole Stewart, Jonathan Melton, David Knight and Patrick Buffkin. All of them voted for the resolutions introduced by Martin which also included a demand that there be no discussion at the Council table about these very important community engagement issues. Councilors David Cox and Corey Branch voted against the resolutions. Cox was completely blindsided by this process and vote. When he simply asked why they needed to do this now, he was gaveled down by Baldwin. Branch commented that these votes to destroy CACs were creating a void, and that the Council had no plans to fill that void.

Three years later that void still exists. There are no new community organizations run by Raleigh residents with City support. Fortunately for Raleigh residents there are quite a few Citizen Advisory Councils that survived the sneak attack on February 4, 2020. Even without City funding and support, these survivors have continued on with their mission of two-way communication between Raleigh residents and their City government. Despite the previous City Council’s best efforts to destroy this culture created almost 50 years ago by Raleigh’s first African-American mayor Clarence Lightner, Raleigh residents still have community organizations where they can be heard and learn about what our elected officials and City staff are doing to make Raleigh a great place to live. Click here to find information about CACs.

Mayor Lightner knew that the City of Raleigh government needed to hear from all residents, not just the wealthy and powerful. The Citizen Advisory Councils he created were a way for regular folks to have a voice in City politics, and not just the well-connected “good old boy” network that ran Raleigh. To appreciate that vision, click here to watch a two-minute video about CACs produced by the City back in the good old days of solid support for community engagement. Why is that support so important? Because as the video says towards the end, “because broader input leads to better decision making.” Our elected representatives need to hear from all of us, not just wealthy political donors.

As the Chair of the Hillsborough-Wade CAC, I encourage you to stay informed and be involved. Our CAC has regular meetings on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM. Since the pandemic all of our meetings have been on Zoom. All Raleigh residents are welcome to attend the meetings of our CAC and all of the other surviving CACs (click here for a 2-page PDF that shows CACs before and after the 2/4/2020 vote). You’re allowed to vote in the CAC where you live. Click here for a 2-page PDF that will help you locate your neighborhood within the Hillsborough-Wade CAC. If you live in an area with no active CAC and want to restore community engagement in that part of Raleigh, please contact me or other CAC Chairs (link to contact information).

Right now we are surviving on donations from individuals. For instance, our former Hillsborough-Wade CAC Chair Donna Bailey has been paying for our Zoom account. We do not have a bank account and are not incorporated, so it’s complicated to rent meeting spaces at our City parks facilities that we used to be able to meet in for free. Please encourage our City Councilors to “throw us a life-line” as the City continues its very slow process reinventing community engagement. What we need right now: monthly access to meeting facilities in City parks, access to a City Zoom account, and free use of video equipment already purchased for CAC use. Click here for more details about this request.

Thank you for caring about your community and city,
Mike Lindsay
Chair of the Hillsborough-Wade CAC






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