Daniels urges change in polling process

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2006

AHOSKIE – Hal Daniels says it’s all about the Democratic process.

Addressing the Ahoskie Town Council during their public input session on Tuesday morning, Daniels, a prominent local businessman, urged the town leaders to make an adjustment in the process currently being used to poll property owners along Memorial Drive in regards to possibly changing the name of Ahoskie’s busiest road.

Last month, the Town of Ahoskie mailed letters each property owner n business and residential n on Memorial Drive. In those letters, town officials were seeking public response to rename Memorial Drive in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Daniels referenced that letter, saying he would prefer seeing a non-response not counted as a “yes” vote.

The letter did indeed specify that, “a non-response in this matter will be considered as support.”

“I don’t think non-responses should be counted as affirmative votes,” Daniels said. “In a Democratic process, you count the yeas and the nays.”

Councilman C.R. Askew said the wording of the letter was very clear, saying it informed the recipient that failure to respond would result in a ‘yes’ vote, much like the parliamentary procedure used by municipal government bodies such as Ahoskie.

Councilman Malcolm Copeland countered by saying this particular polling process of residential and business owners did not fall under the Robert’s Rules of Order, guidelines used by elected boards that set common rules and procedures for deliberation and debate.

While Copeland seemed to be favoring Daniels’ suggestion, no motion was heard and no action was taken.

The debate of naming one of Ahoskie’s streets in honor of Dr. King first surfaced at a September meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council. Since, it has been discussed twice at ensuing meetings n a public input session held Oct. 10 and at a public workshop on Oct. 19. At their November meeting, Town Council members directed Mayor Linda Blackburn and Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond to send a letter to property owners on Memorial Drive.

Meanwhile, other suggestions have included renaming Catherine Creek Road and First Street. There was one suggestion of naming the (railroad) overpass on Memorial Drive in honor of the slain Civil Rights leader.

At the Oct. 10 meeting, two local residents spoke in favor of honoring Dr. King, but not at the expense of renaming Catherine Creek Road. They said CC Road bore historical significance due to being Ahoskie’s first street, a road that old maps show in existence as early as 1804.

The renaming of any street or thoroughfare in Ahoskie will require of those living or having a place of business on that street or thoroughfare to make certain changes to their mailing address.

The physical address (i.e. house numbers and numbers for businesses) would not be affected.

Only the name of the street would be changed.

Changes in mailing addresses will be the total responsibility of the resident or business located on the street or thoroughfare undergoing a name change. Specifically, this means that the resident/business will be responsible for notifying all of those with whom they have correspondence of their new address.

Additionally, any change in the name of a street or thoroughfare would also involve the individual or business to make necessary changes to checks, letterheads, invoices, etc.

Memorial Drive property owners have until Jan. 2, 2007 to respond to the letter.

As of Tuesday, 55 responses have been returned to Hammond.