Indian Trail mayor says fear changed his vote
The Indian Trail mayor stated he changed his vote because of "fear of a violent attack toward those who voted for" forming a town police department at a Saturday council meeting.
Michael Alvarez replied to an email sent Sunday by resident complaining he did not keep order during the meeting, did not gavel down people speaking out of order and allowed the audience to shout comments while the council conducted business. As the council was poised to vote to end contract negotiations with the Union County Sheriff's Office and start a town police department, the audience was vocal in its disapproval. The meeting audience became particularly emotional when Alvarez, who does not usually vote except in the case of a tie, read a prepared statement that he would vote for a police department.
Alvarez voted with council members David Cohn and David Waddell to defeat Darlene Luther's motion for a police department after a heated discussion often interrupted by audience outbursts.
"Imagine if I kept my vote as yes the violent behavior that would have taken place toward Robert (Allen), Darlene and Myself? All condoned by the people they support maybe? there is more to it than dollars and cents and I wish people would clear their minds and look at the facts," Alvarez wrote Monday.
He continued, stating that a deputy contacted him before the meeting, saying he would protect council members if "something got out of control." Alvarez then stated that the deputy "stood up in a violent manner screaming."
Lt. Chase Coble spoke to the council at its request. His speech was emotional and he directed his comments and gestures mainly to Luther. Once Coble made his statement, he spent most of the remaining meeting in the back of the room alongside Sheriff Eddie Cathey and a number of other deputies attending the meeting.
"He refused to remove someone against change and attacked Chip long (sic). This is where and I quote my heart breaks. Not at the value, which still has not been proven in public as to the real facts. It has to do with the professionalism and unbiased behavior by some deputies. It has to do with the sheriff not calling me before he sent such a letter to the press or a council person not following procedure to notify the rest of council or the Mayor they are meeting with the Sheriff," Alvarez wrote.
He stated he doubted the "level of outstanding service continuing if someone speaks up about having the information of a PD."
"My vote changed because of the fear of a violent attack toward those who voted for it. It also change because of 7 emails I received from people asking me to vote for the contract and the fact no one against it showed up. So the people did speak or did they," Alvarez wrote.
He ultimately proposed a referendum to let residents vote on forming a police department, but no such action was taken by the council.
"I am curious as to how the people would feel if they had the facts I do," Alvarez wrote, but did not elaborate on what these facts are.
"I would feel a lot better if the Sheriff stood up and said we appreciate all the support and will continue to give the excellent service we have always given but we do not condone violence or unprofessional behavior," Alvarez wrote. "For I used the Gavel and it was ignored by the people, a council member and the deputy. It was a free for all. If I would have used it more and louder? maybe it would done more or maybe not."
A message for Alvarez to comment on the email was not returned by deadline.