The Board of Aldermen approved an Equality Resolution, after nearly four months of discussion, at the Aug. 10, 2021 meeting. The board also recognized the promotion of Lt. Lyle Anibal to assistant chief of operations at the town of Elon police department, discussed commonly asked questions regarding water and sewer bills and approved a resolution for the town of Elon to secure loans for the purchase of the Travis Creek Pump Station from Gibsonville.
Adopting the Equality Resolution
The resolution, drafted by Mayor Pro-Tem Davis Montgomery and Alderwoman Emily Sharpe, calls upon all residents, businesses, visitors, municipal and private employees to treat all people with “respect and dignity” to support the town’s mission and values.
The resolution states that the town of Elon will not discriminate against any human being in employment practices or taxpayer-funded programs based on characteristics such as race, natural hair or hairstyles, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military or veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, disability or other protected class.
The resolution states discrimination is not tolerated in public accommodations which include hotels, restaurants, retail establishments and government buildings. The resolution itself does not outline any legal ramifications for businesses or individuals who discriminate, nor any avenues for reporting discrimination to the town.
The town also does not define what discrimination is; it outlines what characteristics or physical attributes could be discriminated against. Unlike an ordinance, which is a law, a resolution is something the town of Elon is in favor of.
The resolution also states a local committee is “encouraged” to evaluate municipal policies and ordinances for discriminatory impacts, create a forum for public input and to make recommendations to the Board of Aldermen for any future actions “related to any discrimination” within the community.
“We don’t have any words or policies that are overtly discriminatory,” Town Manager Richard Roedner said. “We may have policies or ordinances that create a discriminatory situation.”
Alderman Quinn Ray first brought forth the idea of adopting an anti-discrimination ordinance, similar to those adopted by larger municipalities such as Chapel Hill, in April. Until January 2021, local governments in North Carolina were prohibited from defining what discrimination is in private employment or public accommodations due to the adoption of House Bill 2 in 2016 and House Bill 142 in 2017.
Ray, who did vote to pass the resolution, said he feels that while the resolution is a “step forward,” he does hope the board considers what enacted an ordinance could look like in the future.
“I’m glad all the board members are still on board with not closing the book on this and then seeing this leads us after the resolution,” Ray said. “It is still, in my personal opinion, unfortunate [that] I can tell you ‘I’m not serving you because you’re gay’ in the town and nothing happens, but this is a step forward.”
The board also opted to invite community members to comment on the resolution, in addition to posting resources for citizens at the state level.
Roedner said it is up to the board to decide if a committee will be formed in the future, what committee involvement would look like, as well as targets and deadlines for the group.
“The next step is yours,” Roedner said.
Promoting Lt. Anibal
Lt. Anibal was promoted to assistant chief of operations, which was recognized at the board meeting. Chief of the town of Elon police department Kelly Blackwelder said Anibal has “occupied every facet” of the police department and she feels very lucky to work with him. Anibal will be taking over patrol operations and serve as a mentor for younger officers.
“He was actually one of my mentors,” Blackwelder said. “He was someone I really looked up to.”
Anibal said when he first started at Elon in 1995, he had only planned on staying two to three years before transferring to a larger department. But throughout his time in the town, he said he found “something special.”
“Through all my deployments and military service, I’ve always come back and found this place to be home,” Anibal said.
Water and sewer
The town of Elon recently increased the length of each billing cycle, which some citizens reached out to town hall and board members to better understand the increased charges.
According to Roedner, the town will be including a Q & A for residents to access via the website, explaining where Elon gets its water supply from, how rates are charged and what could change a water bill.