Matthew Petty receives City Council award; reflects upon nearly 13-year tenure

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan presents Matthew Petty with an award for his nearly 13 years of service as a City Council member in Ward 2.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Matthew Petty was honored on Tuesday for serving nearly 13 years as a City Council member in Fayetteville.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan presented Petty with a plaque before Tuesday evening’s council meeting, and thanked him for his hard work, dedication and vision.

“I can’t tell you how much you’re going to be missed by the City Council, the citizens and myself personally,” Jordan said. “I have tremendous gratitude for the work that you have done.”

Candidates for Petty’s seat

The following candidates are running for the open Ward 2 seat in the Feb. 8 special election. All candidates were sent a request for more information about their candidacy. Responses are posted in alphabetical order.

Petty, 37, resigned from the council in October, and said his workload and travel had increased to the point that it was too difficult for him to provide the level of service he expects of himself.

Petty was first elected to the Ward 2, Position 2 seat in 2008 and won reelection in 2012, 2016 and 2020. He was the city’s longest-serving council member at the time of his resignation, and was present for 298 out of 327 council meetings for a 91% attendance rate.

Petty said he never set out to have such a long career on the council.

“But when I resigned, it was truly with mixed feelings because I loved the position,” he said.

During his time on the council, Petty was a strong advocate for environmental protection, public transit and affordable housing.

He made his first proposal during his third meeting when he called for a marijuana arrest oversight committee. That idea failed to receive any support. Soon after that, he encouraged the city to begin using social media to engage citizens instead of relying solely on newspaper advertisements. That idea received pushback, but was eventually adopted.

In his later years, Petty initiated and secured funding for the city’s Recycling and Trash Master Plan, which resulted in the expansion of Fayetteville’s recycling program to small apartment buildings and led to a new composting program with grocers and restaurants. He also initiated and secured funding for Fayetteville’s Mobility Plan and 71B master plans.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

After the pandemic hit, Petty organized and proposed reestablishment of the city’s Board of Health, while recruiting most of the members and helping the board establish updated rules. He also wrote the city’s mask ordinance and sponsored the city’s vaccine incentive program.

After receiving his award, Petty stood at the lectern and spoke.

“Lioneld, you were always a mentor to me, and I love you for it,” he told the mayor.

Petty quoted former Fayetteville resident and President Bill Clinton who once said, “To be a good leader you have to be tough as nails and you have to have a tender heart.”

Petty said while he knows he earned a reputation for being someone who would push hard for what he believed in, he probably could’ve been more gentle in his process.

“If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t know that my heart was ever tender enough to really accomplish all that I wanted to do,” he said. “But to all the people I served with over the years and to the people I got to serve, I truly love each and every one of you.”

Petty said he loves Fayetteville, but it’s the people who live and work here that mean the most to him.

“A lot of you are more tenderhearted than I ever was,” he said. “Be tough as nails, too.”