Greensboro City Council will reconsider a controversial aggressive solicitation ordinance approved last month.
Councilwoman Sharon Hightower, who voted with the majority to implement the ordinance on April 24, confirmed that she plans to make a motion at the next council meeting to reconsider. The aggressive solicitation ordinance was approved on a 6-3 vote after council unanimously repealed the city’s panhandling ordinance under advice from City Attorney Tom Carruthers that it wouldn’t withstand a Constitutional challenge.
Hightower indicated her plans to call for a second vote on the aggressive solicitation ordinance during a city council meeting on Monday. She said she didn’t want to be the kind of elected official she loathes — someone who votes in support of a measure without fully understanding how it will affect those with the greatest stake.
“I don’t want to be guilty of what others are,” Hightower said. “I did not have a real good opportunity to engage many of the homeless people that came forth to talk about the aggressive panhandling substitute.
“No matter how much research you do, you still need to engage the people it affects — the stakeholders that it impacts,” she added. “And so I don’t want this ordinance to have any unintended consequences. I do not want to be, and I will not be a proponent of disenfranchisement and injustice, so I will be bringing that ordinance back up to change my vote on the aggressive panhandling ordinance.”
Hightower’s switch puts her in the same camp with Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson, Councilwoman Michelle Kennedy and Councilwoman Goldie Wells in opposition to the new ordinance. Members of the Homeless Union of Greensboro and other advocates are looking for at least one additional council member to get the majority needed to rescind the ordinance. Opponents of the aggressive solicitation ordinance held a conference call with a legal team on Monday to prepare to file an injunction against the ordinance.