New Statesville Council members sworn in
Retired Superior Court Judge Robert A. Collier Jr. swears in Statesville City Council members Doris Allison, Steve Johnson, C.O. Johnson, John Staford and William Morgan on Monday evening at City Hall.
BY HALEY JONES
Doris Allison, John Staford and Steve Johnson were sworn in as new members of the Statesville City Council during Monday’s council meeting in City Hall.
Allison was elected as the Ward 3 representative, Staford as Ward 5 representative and Johnson as at-large councilman in October.
Councilmen C.O. Johnson and William Morgan, both of whow were re-elected this fall, were also sworn in along with Mayor Costi Kutteh. Retired Superior Court Judge Robert A. Collier Jr. administered the oath.
The three new council members told SVLfreenews.com about their goals and priorities moving forward:
“I hope to reunite us together and for the voices of the citizens to be heard and represented by all candidates,” Allison said. “We will move forward and address issues such as violence and murder cases. Safety is the number one priority. That is what our voters want us to do and for them to know that their vote counts; that is what I expect from others and that is what I expect to do.”
Allison is the first African-American woman to serve on the council, an accomplishment that was recognized with a standing ovation.
“I plan to bring living-wage jobs, repeal the solid waste fee, develop community-oriented policing and improve our public safety, in addition to code enforcement throughout the city and deal with derelict houses,” Staford said.
The new councilman made a motion during Monday night’s meeting to direct city staff to remove the American flag and its size from the sign ordinance. Mayor Costi Kutteh explained that Staford would need to present evidence that the change was needed.
“When it comes to the American flag or cross, the bigger the better,” Staford explained.
“I plan to appeal the sanitation fee,” Johnson said. “I am going to do my best to fulfill that campaign promise. I want to make sure that we have all the information we need for our capital projects within revenue streams in the future with accurate revenue projections. I am also going to make sure we ramp up our economic development programs so [the City of Statesville] has client-ready sites.”
The mayor welcomed the new members.
Outgoing Councilmen Honored
Kutteh also acknowledged outgoing councilmen Michael Schlesinger, Jarrod Phifer and Arnold Watt for their service to the city. Schlesinger and Phifer were not present at the meeting due to prior engagements. Watt was presented with a plaque for his services, as well as his name plate.
“Four years goes pretty fast but this was a great experience and I am honored to be a part of this community, [especially] in a leadership position,” said Watt. “I put the challenge to [future councilmen] to put forward the integrity and champion this community at the forefront. I have had the opportunity to meet wonderful staff and I want to thank you. I am humbled to work with you folks; we’ve done a lot of great things in a short time. It’s been an honor.”
Mayor Pro Tempore Election
In a 5-4 vote, Councilman Steve Johnson was selected as Mayor Pro Tempore. Michael Johnson had served in that capacity since 2007.
Morgan lobbied for Michael Johnson to continue in that role before the vote.
“This is a position that requires a tremendous amount of responsibility and understanding of the operation of city government,” Morgan said. “For that reason, I believe that the most qualified person for the job is Mayor Pro Tem Michael Johnson.”
After a 4-4 vote, Mayor Kutteh cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of Steve Johnson.
“I am excited that there is an interest in this position and I have always thought it should be a shared responsibility. I think it should rotate among those interested,” Kutteh explained.
Other items on the agenda included:
- Approval of the second reading of an ordinance to annex the Charles Ferguson property at 2604 Newton Drive.
- Approval of a donation to Iredell Museums in the amount of $10,000, out of the City’s occupancy tax revenues.
- Approval of three reappointments to the Statesville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
- Approval of the receipt of a $4,850 ElectriCities grant for system betterment funding.
- Granting permission to the Statesville Police Department staff to accept the Department of Justice (DOJ) – Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program for up to three sworn School Resource Officers positions for $375,000 over a 36-month period and approve the attached Budget Amendment #15.
- Granting permission to the Statesville Police Department staff to apply for a grant from the NC Governor’s Crime Commission (GCC), Federal VAWA-Violence Against Women Act – for up to $150,000 for the purpose of supporting the department’s Domestic Violence Initiative, Victim Advocate, and 2 Domestic Violence Investigators salaries, fringe benefits, supplies, and training.