Letter to the Editor from Stef Mendell

Anticipating that the N&O will not publish my LTE, I am sharing here:

Dear Mr. Barnett,

Your editorial on 10/16 praises the new council for getting off to a peaceful start. I wish you had been more outspoken about what you consider appropriate behavior during the recent Raleigh City Council elections.

While your paper did publish one article about the negative mailers sent out by several candidates and/or their PAC supporters, that article mostly repeated the outrageous lies; it didn’t actually fact-check the claims made in those mailers. I’ll spare you the trouble of tracking down Pat Stith by providing facts to refute those lies.

I seriously doubt that you will publish this rebuttal because the local media is so heavily influenced by the Meeker/McFarlane connection, but I’d also like to ask you to explain the paper’s endorsement of Brittany Bryan in District D.

Based on your other endorsements, it was very curious that you didn’t endorse Saige Martin/Saige Ortiz in D. Could that be because you had questions about Mr. Martin’s/Mr. Ortiz’s ability to tell the truth about issues such as his voting record and his background? Why didn’t you investigate those issues and/or explain your concerns about him when you explained your endorsements? As a person seeking public office, Mr. Martin/Mr. Ortiz should not have ignored and blocked people on social media who tried to follow up on his claims.

Again, let me help you with what should have been investigated:

  • He claims that the reason he didn’t vote in the last two municipal elections was because his absentee ballot requests were lost – both times – despite the Wake County Board of Elections having no record of those requests.
  • He is registered to vote as “White – not Hispanic or not Latino” but started referring to himself as both Saige Martin and Saige Ortiz and refused to respond to inquiries about his identity.
  • He claims to have “grown up homeless” and promoted that narrative as qualifying him to understand the concerns of our most marginalized residents. Yet it appears that he was adopted into a middle class or upper middle class home at a very young age (four years old or perhaps younger).
  • He claims to have worked at the UN in connection the Paris Climate accords, but refuses to provide more details.

And speaking of concerns for marginalized people, it’s quite ironic that the Triangle Apartment Association recently touted its endorsed candidates that largely swept the Raleigh Council elections. They did that in an email that boasted of their sponsorship by Loebsack & Brownlee, PLLC — a “full service eviction service.” I’m sure Raleigh’s marginalized residents are reassured to hear of that connection.

#1 – The Tale of the Sidewalk

Myth:

My opponent says he decided to run against me because I opposed a sidewalk.

Truth:

  • The sidewalk is being built.
  • My involvement has led to lower costs and more trees saved.
  • I voted against the sidewalk initially because 80% of the on-street residents were opposed.
  • City policy dictated that we listen to them.
  • Area residents wanted a sidewalk and asked me to reconsider.
  • I held a neighborhood meeting and agreed to move forward with the sidewalk.
  • We revised City policy to include input from surrounding neighbors in the future.
  • While I heard from, responded to, and met with many residents who had concerns, I never once heard from my opponent about the sidewalk.

#2 – The Tale of the Rooftop Restaurant

Myth:

My opponent claims that I was responsible for the delays in the opening of Scott Crawford’s Jolie Restaurant.

Truth:

  • As a neighboring property owner, I attended the Board of Adjustment hearing.
  • I sought and received, guidance from the City Attorney that this was appropriate.
  • I spoke at the hearing to reinforce city staff concerns about the need to shield neighbors from rooftop dining noise.
  • No additional requirements were placed on Mr. Crawford as a result of my actions.
  • Crawford’s hearing was postponed for one month because he neglected to send legal counsel to the original hearing.
  • Any delays in the opening of the restaurant are Mr. Crawford’s responsibility.

#3 – The City of Raleigh’s Fiscal Condition

Myth:

My opponent claims that the City of Raleigh is in financial trouble.

Truth:

  • The City of Raleigh is not in financial trouble.
  • The City of Raleigh continues to maintain a AAA Bond Rating.
  • We are in great shape financially, and we always will be, because we are required by law to have a balanced budget.

#4 – The Infrastructure is crumbling

Myth:

My opponent claims that the infrastructure in the City of Raleigh is crumbling.

Truth:

  • The City of Raleigh is not crumbling.
  • In July 2019, our public utilities department received an “Excellence in Management Platinum Recognition” from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies for our “commitment to sustainable, successful programs that exemplify the attributes of an effectively managed utility.”
  • In 2019, Raleigh received national recognition for having four times FEWER sewer overflows than the national average.
  • The smaller rate increase we approved in 2019 (1.6% instead of 3.2%) had no effect on the utilities maintenance budget which was funded at over 160%.

#5 – The council is dysfunctional

Myth:

My opponent claims that Council is dysfunctional and “can’t agree” on issues.

Truth:

  • Of the many resolutions considered at all of the council meetings from January to June 2019:
  • 93% were approved unanimously
  • another 5% were approved by a split vote, and
  • 2% were not approved.
  • This Council passed resolutions on ADUs and on Short-term rentals (Air BnB) when previous councils had failed to reach consensus on those items for four or five years.
  • This Council passed the budget, with no tax increase, unanimously.
  • This Council passed the Dix Master Plan unanimously.

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