Tuesday’s swift series of city council meetings revolved around one thing: filling the vacancy left in District C by councilman James West’s appointment to the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
A six-member majority voted to appoint Eugene Weeks to the seat representing District C, concentrated in southeast Raleigh.
In speaking to the council, Weeks said city leaders have plenty to do moving forward.
“There are many issues to address: Too many foreclosures in southeast, not enough businesses, figuring how to keep our youth off the street and transportation and public transit for our senior citizens,” Weeks said.
The council chose Weeks from 10 nominees scheduled to speak at Tuesday’s meetings. But the vote wasn’t unanimous, much like the Independent Weekly predicted in its Sept. 23 Citizen blog post before the council vote.
“The reported coronation of Eugene Weeks as District C’s new representative on the Raleigh City Council isn’t the absolutely sure thing it has been made out to be,” Indy reporter Bob Geary wrote.
Nominee Rev. Sheila Jones received one vote from Councilman Thomas Crowder.
“This is a historic opportunity to appoint the first African-American woman to the council,” Crowder said.
Several other black women were vying for the post, including Portia Rochelle, Brenda Williamson and Racquel Williams, whose climactic speech came during the afternoon session.
“There are a lot of complicated issues in District C and whoever sits in that seat needs to be able to address them,” she said.
As she approached the podium, around 25 people, mostly wearing white shirts, stood up in the audience to show their support for her. Williams then asked all of the nominees to join in holding hands with her before the council in a show of solidarity and support for one another and a recognition of the serious responsibility of representing District C.
She did not receive a single vote from any of the council members.
The Fair Housing Hearing Board also presented its annual report. Octavia Rainey, chair of the FHHB, was playful in her dialogue with city leaders, but noted that since 1976 the amount of people who serve on the FHHB has remained stagnant at five while the board’s powers have only decreased.
“In the beginning, our mandate gave us the enforcement of power, to enforce the (Fair Housing Act),” Rainey said. “And now our mandate is outreach and education.”
Rainey was quick to point out the FHHB has done an excellent job carrying its current mandate, but that it could do more — and it needs more.
“Oh Mr. Mayor, don’t worry,” Rainey told Mayor Charles Meeker. “I’m gonna ask you for more money.”
On Rainey’s request, Meeker asked that the FHHB’s ordinance be checked for updates to stay in line with state mandates.
Transportation officials also addressed the CAT facility under construction on Poole Road, which is on schedule for completion by April of next year. The facility is implementing new technology, such as geothermal temperature control, to exceed energy efficiency requirements. It has so far reached the requirements for a gold LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council — up from the silver rating originally planned — and is anticipating platinum status.
With construction moving along swiftly, transportation leaders said project staff members are looking for artwork to decorate the facility, which the project manager said is made up of “mostly grey and dull colors.”