Sonia Harvey resigns from Fayetteville City Council

Councilmember Sonia Harvey speaks during a City Council agenda-setting session on Dec. 27, 2022. (Flyer photo/Todd Gill)

FAYETTEVILLE — Sonia Harvey has resigned from the City Council.

In a letter Harvey said she submitted to Mayor Lioneld Jordan, she said her resignation is effective Friday, June 30.

Harvey said her leased home was recently sold and she was initially unable to find an affordable or suitable place to live in Ward 1, so she broadened her search to other parts of the city. She eventually found a home in Ward 2, which means she cannot continue to serve on the council as a representative for Ward 1.

“Coming to the decision of considering a home outside of Ward 1 was undoubtedly difficult,” said Harvey. “However, upon reflecting on the potential to spend more quality time with my daughter Clara during her formative years, the choice became clear.”

She said the decision also felt like a second chance to reevaluate her career path, after recently committing to a second four-year term on the council.

Ward 1 encompasses south and southeast Fayetteville, including the areas south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Huntsville Road. Mount Sequoyah, Happy Hollow Elementary, and Ramay Junior High School are also included in Ward 1.

The remaining council members have two options for replacing Harvey, whose term wasn’t set to expire until the end of 2026.

According to ACA 14-4311, the council must either elect a new member to serve the remaining unexpired term or call for a special public election. An option must be chosen at the first regular meeting after the occurrence of the vacancy, which would be Thursday, July 6 due to the Independence Day holiday.

The council faced a similar situation in 2021 when Matthew Petty resigned after 13 years. The council voted 7-0 to hold a special election on Feb. 8, 2022. Mike Wiederkehr won the seat after defeating challengers Leslie Belden and Kristen Scott.

In another similar instance, a decision was required after Alan Long resigned from his Ward 4 post just 11 months into his second four-year term in 2017. The news came with one day before the group’s next meeting, so council members had to act quickly. They ultimately voted 5-2 to appoint Kyle Smith to fill the vacancy instead of calling a special election.

Harvey won a runoff election in 2018 to begin her first four-year term in the Ward 1, Position 1 seat. She ran unopposed in 2022 to secure a second term.

Harvey has so far been present for 113 out of 118 City Council meetings, for a 96% attendance rate.

“Serving Fayetteville and the constituents of Ward 1 has been an immense honor and privilege,” said Harvey. “While I step away from my current position, I eagerly anticipate remaining engaged with the city in new capacities.”