Locals Gathering Signatures For Vote On Civil Rights Law

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - Some voters in Fayetteville are hoping they can reverse a decision by the City Council from last month.

However, before a ballot issue on the city's new civil rights ordinance can make it to voters, it must receive more than 4,000 petition signatures.

The civil rights ordinance bans local businesses from discriminating against customers based sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors.

Some are now fighting against that ordinance.

“We are just out here to collect signatures to help reverse and put Ordinance 119 on the ballot, so people of Fayetteville can have a voice and vote,” said Andrew Patton, a local man gathering signatures.

Citizens gathering signatures hope to repeal the City Council`s decision to create a civil rights administrator.

“We feel confident that we are going to get the signatures, but it is still going to take a lot of work,” said Jeremy Flanagan, Pastor of Pathway Baptist Church in Fayetteville.

The effort to gather signatures is one the City Council says they expected.

“We were pretty sure that they would do that,” said Adella Gray, a Fayetteville City Council member.

Gray tells 5NEWS that the City Council felt they were elected to make decisions like this.

“I felt that the thing for us to do as city council members was to step up to the plate,” Gray said.

Signature gatherers are working against the clock to bring the issue to voters.

“They would have to get 4,095 signatures of Fayetteville voters in order to call a referendum on the ordinance,” said Kit Williams, Fayetteville city attorney.

If enough signatures are collected, a special election would be held on one of two possible dates.

“One would be December 9, another would be January 13,” Williams said.

Those who are on the streets collecting signatures have also set up a place to get more information on the signature gathering.

“Other places can be found on our website at Repeal119.com, and on our ‘Repeal 119’ Facebook page,” Flanagan said.

Officials with those collecting signatures say they have been averaging about 300 new signatures a day.

“Which tells us that a lot of Fayetteville citizens want to voice their opinions on this,” Flanagan said. “We feel a lot of the citizens of Fayetteville are not happy with [the ordinance]. So, we are just trying to give them an opportunity to vote on it themselves.”

Signatures are due to the City Clerk by September 20, which is a Saturday.

Although the office is normally closed on Saturdays, officials say the clerk will be there that Saturday to collect the petition if it is turned in.

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