NCVCE's work highlighted in Yes Weekly

Residents push for Resolutions on Citizens United

By Eric Ginsburg

A push by Greensboro residents for a city council resolution opposing the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court decision has gained traction. After Occupy Greensboro members reached out to council members and spoke at the July 17 meeting, City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan wrote a memo saying council could consider a resolution on the topic written by staff, a council member or a third party.

At-large Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter has been working with Occupy Greensboro members, specifically Barbara and Paul Carrano, behind the scenes on the issue, and said District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy- Small asked Shah-Khan to look into the issue.

The Supreme Court decision, critics say, allows for increased corporate influence in elections that often doesn’t serve the interest of the people. Following the lead of nine other cities in the state, including Raleigh, Asheville, Durham and Chapel Hill, that already passed resolutions, people in Winston-Salem and Greensboro are organizing for resolutions as well.

Melissa Price Kromm, director of NC Voters for Clean Elections, said a loose statewide coalition of groups has been working to pass the resolutions, and said people in Charlotte, New Bern and Wilmington are planning similar efforts. The resolutions reject the notion of corporate personhood and proponents hope it will create a groundswell for a constitutional amendment.

“Corporate money may be spent limitlessly to influence elections… thereby diluting the power of the people,” the Asheville resolution reads. “[T]he city council… calls on our elected representatives in the United States Congress to initiate the process to amend the Constitution of the United States to abolish corporate personhood.”

Abuzuaiter said she hopes to sit down with other council members to discuss the initiative in the next several weeks and bring it up for a vote in September.

“What caught my attention is how many cities have already passed it,” said Abuzuaiter, who said she didn’t have a feel for how a vote would break down. “Anything that constituents bring before council should certainly be considered and talked about and researched. This is what I was elected for. I believe this makes a strong statement that we would like as best we can to keep our elections clear and free of corporate influence.”

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