Local city leaders react to anti-discrimination bill

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Several cities across North Carolina believe the state is over using its power.

Monday night, the Chapel Hill Town Council decided to formally oppose a controversial law, House Bill 2.

WNCT’s Kelly Byrne looked into how cities in the East are responding.

City leaders had mixed emotions about the new law. Some told Byrne they were for the law, while others said the state should let cities govern their own territory.

“It’s not going to really affect us on a daily basis,” said Council Member PJ Connelly. Connelly believes the law, House Bill 2, won’t necessarily directly affect Greenville. “I think it’s a good bill. I think it was the right move by the legislature.”

That’s not what all council members believe.

“There is a several year pattern in Raleigh involving itself unnecessarily in the affairs of local governments, including Greenville,” said At-Large City Council Member Calvin Mercer. Mercer told Byrne that he thinks decisions regarding small cities should be made by the city. “The Greenville citizens are perfectly capable of deciding these kinds of issues for themselves. They don’t need the general assembly in Raleigh telling them what they need to do on this and other issues.”

He said North Carolina representatives need to focus on state issues, like handling the state budget and recruiting businesses to the state.

Byrne asked if the Greenville City Council plans to take a formal vote on whether to oppose the bill. He said, while the council has not yet discussed the new law, he will need to hear opposition from residents.

“If the citizens of this city want to speak out on this issue, I am certainly willing to hear them and to work on that, but it must bubble up from the citizens,” said Mercer.

Earlier today, WNCT spoke to Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas, who issued this statement:

“The bathroom item has no impact on Greenville, as we’ve never had such a rule. The concern, are all the other items, unrelated to bathrooms that were inserted in this bill. We are still assessing these impacts.”

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