Letter: Respect our mayor

Published 11:21 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2018

In the video from the May 15 City Council meeting, there is clearly deep disagreement among council members Karen Alexander, Brian Miller, David Post and Tamara Sheffield regarding Mayor Al Heggins’ travel to a sister city event in Salisbury, England.

This was placed on the agenda at the last minute. Discussion quickly turned personal, with members calling Heggins’ attending the “mayor making” event at city expense “very inappropriate” (Alexander) and a waste of tax payer money (Miller). Little understanding was shown about the travel policy or the Sister City agreement from everyone except the mayor. Why is the travel policy suddenly in question, when in terms past  it was not?

I am moved to call out the rude, disrespectful behavior of Alexander, Miller, Post and Sheffield. They did not make or maintain eye contact with speakers. They were checking laptops or phones while others were speaking, and there was even some eye-rolling. Alexander mentioned that no council member used city funds for travel, “even when Pete Kennedy was on council” — an excellent example of a micro-aggression.

During public comment, several speakers named this disagreement as one rooted in racism. I agree.

I get that comments about race make many people uncomfortable. And I get that talking about race makes white people uncomfortable. As a white person, I suspect this is where most of us stop, as if our discomfort is proof that we have done no harm. However, I ask you to sit with your discomfort and recognize that feeling uncomfortable is a good indicator that you probably have some deep work to do.

I will end with a quote from the Rev. Latasha Wilks: “You do not have to agree with (Heggins). You do not even have to like her. But you do have to respect her.” #respectourmayor”

— Teresa C. Rowell