Council members clash over events, need for attendance

Published 8:54 am Wednesday, November 6, 2019

An Albemarle councilwoman addressed her age and a need to have less events in the city as a response to council members seeking more attendance at said events.

“The voters know how old we are when they vote for us,” Councilwoman Shirley Lowder said. “I’m almost 80 years old, and I’m not going to ramp around Albemarle for all these events.”

Lowder made these declarations during the board member comment session near the end of Monday’s City Council meeting.

Her remarks came in reference to comments earlier in the meeting regarding a lack of attendance by elected officials at community meetings and special events.

“I’m aware that some of you (other council members) work eight hours a day, and that’s wonderful, but don’t expect other people to be that embedded in City Council,” Lowder said. “I take my job seriously and will do as I can do. It seems we have sort of got a lashing tonight about not showing up at the bingo hut or at this event or that.”

During their respective comment times, Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Sue Hall and Councilman Chris Bramlett had recounted less-than-stellar attendance by council members and other elected officials at recent events.

Hall reported on dismal attendance on the final night of the city’s Fall Festival on Oct. 25. She said she texted other council members during the event, asking, “Where are you folks?”

Although characterizing attendance at the first night of the festival as “incredible” and the second night as “reasonable,” Bramlett described attendance at the final night, both by council members and the public, as “miserable.”

He also recounted he had been the only elected official in the county in attendance at a recent breakfast event at Atrium Health-Stanly.

“I’m not one of those who can do all that (attending events)…well, I’m not the only one, but I’m the only one who will say I’m not going to do it,” Lowder said. “It doesn’t matter to me how many on the council show up for the Halloween trick or treat.

“Maybe since we are now non-partisan, we can team up a little better with all councilmen and councilwomen and help each other when we can.”