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Councilwoman Tisha Waddell in her own words: Not seeking reelection

1 July 2021

Introduction of Opinion Piece by Councilwoman Tisha Waddell

by Karl Merritt

Councilwoman Tisha Waddell recently wrote an opinion piece in which she announced her decision not to seek another term on Fayetteville City Council and not to run for mayor. I live in District Three which is represented by Councilwoman Waddell. She has served, and continues to serve, this city in a manner that is nearly extinct among American politicians. That is, rather than focusing on winning elections and amassing power, she seeks to serve the interests of her district, but also of the whole city.

I write a lot about the need to put emotions aside and collect facts, analyze them, reach sound conclusions, and act on those conclusions. Repeatedly, consistently, Councilwoman Waddell not only did her homework, but was able to expertly explain findings and make a logical case for whatever action she was proposing. This process is rarely employed anymore in American governance; for this reason Waddell’s departure will be a tremendous loss to this Council and our city.

The grave negative impact of losing Councilwoman Waddell from city government mandates that citizens of Fayetteville give attention to the reason for her departure. That can be done by reading her opinion piece that, with her permission, appears below. Readers may submit comments at the end of that article.

Opinion Piece by Councilwoman Tisha Waddell

Councilwoman Tisha Waddell

“I am not running for re-election, and I am also NOT running for Mayor as speculated. I appreciate all the support I have received and even the naysayers, as you have each helped me grow. I am also grateful to the handful of people I shared my decision with before submitting this article that completely understands why this is my choice. There was a marked difference between the first two years I served as an elected official and what will be my last. I was fortunate to serve with councilmen like Ted Mohn, Bill Crisp, and Jim Arp. These legislators weren’t perfect, but they researched, were more consistent in policy application, and were not afraid to challenge the status quo. It was demanding but rewarding.  I learned quickly and was complete in my decision-making. I earned a stable reputation as one who weighs the facts and makes decisions based on what’s in the community’s best interest, whether it was popular with the political bullies or not. I regret that those new to their positions have not benefited from serving under different conditions and hope the tide shifts for them and all of us represented by them.  

Had my first two years been anything like my last two, there wouldn’t have been a second term. It is difficult to accept the amount of hypocrisy and fear in our local government and even more so that it is excused as expected. We should not expect our leaders, at any level, to be ego-driven or inconsistent in process and policy. Disagreements should not be allowed to become flashpoints, and unstable agitators should not be permitted to pull focus away from our legislator’s actual responsibilities. The abusive mishandling by members of the Council or members in the community of our leaders should not be tolerated. Whether we like them or not, they were elected by a majority of the people who voted and belong precisely where they are.  

Initially, I only promised to do my part to communicate and make sound decisions. Focusing on sharing the tools needed to guide their elected’s choices for this city and removing barriers to access between them and their representative has hopefully helped District Three understand their power. When looking back, I hope the things people remember are that I supported legislation that seeks to increase transparency in how the Council makes decisions. I’ve called for undeviating policy practices in the hopes that we could level the playing field for future council members to be able to do their job. I’ve helped the Council shift its focus from implementing fee increases to more meaningful investments into our neighborhoods through street resurfacing and stormwater investments. There have been measurable successes in some regards, and in others, the needle has barely moved.  I respect each of my peers on Council and recognize where we have worked well and where there is room for improvement. It was my great pleasure to work in this capacity, and I will always be fond of how God chose to use me in this season.  

I have learned that it isn’t one person’s job to change leadership, directly or indirectly. That is the job of all the citizens in this city who are of voting age. So, as some celebrate the announcement of my departure from the Fayetteville City Council and others are saddened to lose me as one of their champions for common sense in governing, the takeaway for all should be to register to vote, VOTE, and then hold your elected accountable by staying involved. Your city is counting on YOU!”

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