A group in Mobile is countering annexation with public meetings, yard signs and billboards. Residents in four unincorporated areas west of Mobile will vote on annexation on July 18.
While the mayor and other city officials have pushed for the annexation, saying the people in unincorporated areas could end taxation without representation, Dr. Martin Scott Catino, director of the Faith Family Freedom Coalition of Metro Mobile, said the message is "cover-messaging."
"Saying this is taxation without representation and this is the way for them to be included is a distortion of what they're really trying to do," he argued.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson said annexing property west of Mobile was important to ensure the city wasn't landlocked. The plan includes the four areas labeled Airport Corridor, Cottage Hill Corridor, Kings Branch and Orchard Estates. If voters approve annexation, the population of Mobile would grow to 213,000, making it the second-largest city in the state.
City officials have been pushing annexation for months, saying more population would mean more federal dollars.
However, Catino believes other issues need to be addressed, such as diversity, equity and inclusion policies that he says are part of a Marxist agenda.
"We know that all of these city departments are all problematic," Catino said. "They are the very mechanisms of DEI, so that's why we're concerned. We're concerned about the political, economic system of DEI is going to be extended now into these areas of west Mobile as they're annexed."
City officials have responded to concerns from the community for weeks. Current Mobile residents have voiced opposition to annexation, saying the city should take care of ongoing issues in some neighborhoods before taking on more responsibilities. Stimpson said more federal dollars would be used to improve all parts of the city if annexation is successful. Another concern from residents is that Mobile keeps a black majority and ensures the voting-age population in four of the seven districts within the city remains majority-minority.
"Instead of saying all people will be represented, instead of saying our Constitutional values will be highly enforced and promoted throughout the city, to introduce race as being a critical factor of annexation, it's just horrific," said Catino. "Imagine if the opposite side stood up and said that. Imagine if some group got up and said, 'It is essential that white majority is affirmed throughout annexation.' There would probably be a civil rights lawsuit coming down from the Department of Justice. But they get away with stuff like that because there aren't enough people speaking out and saying how horrifically racist and divisive that message is."
Catino specializes in civil unrest and has studied insurgent, terrorist and subversive groups. He has worked with international police intelligence. After studying Mobile's criminal justice system, he has lectured on the topic and said the system is "deeply troubled."
"To keep it simple, if you can't convict and incarcerate criminals, it's game over," he said. "It's a broken system."
"[T]he people are not working with police and they can't get locals to cooperate with them," Catino added. "They say that as an excuse but that's a further sign of a broken criminal justice system."
Catino said that way of thinking perpetuates crime and should be addressed. He added the annexation vote is one of many battles to be fought.
"There are going to be many more racist, Marxist, DEI encroachments," Catino added. "LGBTQ radicals encroaching into the public and private spheres of the community and we as concerned citizens who love our constitutional freedom need to battle each one of those and push back, non-violently of course, on each encroachment. This is going to be a big decision but there are going to be many more efforts and counter-efforts that need to happen in order to maintain our freedoms."
Mobile City council members have agreed that annexation is the best way for the city and those who would be annexed.
The city has launched a new website to share information and answer questions. Information about specific areas that will vote, voting locations, tax rates and amenities are listed on the website, along with maps of annexation areas.
"We are excited to invite our neighbors to the west to officially join the City of Mobile," Stimpson said. "Growing the city's population can help secure a brighter future for the entire region, and there are many benefits to becoming a full citizen of Mobile. We hope this website can help residents in the proposed annexation areas find the answers they need to make an informed decision."
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