LUMBERTON — The City Council on Monday voted 4 to 3 to rescind a resolution asking for permission from state legislators to limit or eliminate early voting for municipal elections.
Councilmen John Robinson, Jackie Taylor, John Cantey and Robert Jones voted in favor of rescinding it, and Councilmen Don Metzger, Leon Maynor and Erich Hackney were against it. Councilman Harry Ivey, who was not in attendance, had supported the resolution.
Jones was the only councilman to flip his position, having supported the resolution when it passed in a 5-3 vote last month.
Early voting allows people to cast a ballot in advance of Election Day without an explanation. Citizens can also register and vote the same day. It begins Thursday for the May 8 primary.
The council in March adopted a resolution asking state legislators for permission to limit or eliminate early voting. The resolution has been sent to the county’s state legislative delegation, Sen. Michael Walters and Reps. Charles Graham, Garland Pierce and G.L. Pridgen.
The council chambers was about half filled, and three people spoke in favor of early voting during the public comments period.
“To the councilman that made the comment that it ‘almost cost me my seat on the council,’ I thought that was very selfish,” Thomas Jones, a church pastor, told the council. “I thought it was the people’s seat.”
Maynor, the Precinct 7 representative, has been a longtime critic of early voting and had told The Robesonian following the November election that it nearly ended his run on the council.
“I take personal offense for someone to come up and personally attack me,” Maynor said at the end of the meeting. “That’s my precinct because I represent that precinct. I don’t own people.”
Maynor said early voting has been abused in the county.
“I’ve had plenty of phone calls from people who said ‘thank you for doing this,’” he said. “… There needs to be a code of ethics, and those working for candidates need to be trained in how to greet the public, how to be an advocate for a candidate.”
In addition to Jones, Renea Stackhouse of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Nancy Shakir of Democracy North Carolina, also spoke against the resolution.
Pierce had told The Robesonian the request might not go far in Raleigh because the City Council was split. The request, even it approved, would not have affected voting in Lumberton for county, state and federal elections.
Also on Monday, the council:
— Approved a request from Porchia Chavis of DreamLand Rentals, who asked that the council apply on her behalf for a $50,000 N.C. Rural Center renovation and reuse grant to renovate a building at 3525 Lackey St. to house DreamLand AdVenture Zone, a family entertainment center.
— Approved $250,000 from unobligated revenue to the Northeast Park Capital Project fund to construct bathrooms and a scoring tower for the baseball and softball fields at the park. Councilman Jackie Taylor voted against the funding, saying: “The citizens spoke loud and clear that they did not want this park by soundly defeating the bond referendum by a 70 percent vote not to fund it.”
— Approved the purchase of 12 Apple iPads and Grancius Solution software to implement an agenda management system for the council during Council Planning Conference.
— Accepted changes and submitted a program amendment to the state on two Community Block Development Grant programs, from 2008 and 2010.
— Approved the purchase of a $10,000 utility truck for the Public Works Department.
— Approved a partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture on the construction of 80 horse stalls at the newly constructed pavilion at the N.C. Southeastern Agricultural Center/Farmers Market.
— Accepted the donation of a 1995 Serro-Scotty fire safety house from Dobbs Motor Company to the Fire Department.
— Adopted a resolution designating Tim Taylor as agent with authority to act on behalf of the city to coordinate the 22nd annual Family Fourth Celebration on July 3.
— Accepted a withdrawal of petition from Tonya Locklear to re-zone property at 4140 Fayetteville Road.
— Rejected a donation of property on Hayswood Street.
— Approved the release of about $25,400 in taxes from 2002, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
— Approved a resolution allowing the city manager to accept donations on behalf of the city of up to $5,000.
— Designated $900 of Community Revitalization Funds to the Golden Leaf Lodge No. 124.
— Designated $345 of Community Revitalization Funds from Precinct 6 for housing repairs at 108 Powell St.
— Approved a $3,000 donation from the general contingency fund to the Lumberton Football Association to assist with costs and sponsorship for the 2012 Mike Brill Football Clinic.
— Authorized the Fire Department to apply for a Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety grant.
— Re-appointed Bruce Huggins as a trustee to the library board.