Jackson City Council votes down controversial solicitation proposal

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Tonight, the Jackson City Council discussed the possibility of being stricter on solicitation – fining people who are asking for money in specific areas of the city.

The council was divided on the issue, however, they ultimately decided not to move forward with the proposal.

Some said the proposal was needed while others said it would criminalize a population that needs the community’s support.

Several people spoke out during tonight’s public comment portion, including Kevin Hardman. He is experiencing homelessness in Jackson.

“If they would put themselves in our shoes and walk that mile. They might understand you know what we’re going through,” said Hardman.

Some council members including the Mayor of Jackson agreed with hardman’s position saying this was not the way to go.

“I think it sends the wrong signal about who we are as a community. Who we are our values and penalizes poverty instead of prescribing cures to it,” said Mayor Derek Dobies

Others found themselves on the opposite side of the debate.

“I have a responsibility to the people downtown. Those are not just my constituents those are also my business owners,” said Karen Bunnell, a Jackson City Council member.

One of those business owners is William Deary.

“A number of our tenants in the buildings that we have downtown complain to us,” said Deary.

Deary says this type of proposal has been successful in other parts of the countryThe “Aggressive solicitation” proposal would have prohibited solicitation:

  • Within 15 feet of a bank or ATM.
  • Within 15 feet of the entrance or exit of a public or private building
  • Or in any public parking structure.

Violating these rules would have resulted in a $100 fine,

Deary was hoping the city of Jackson would’ve passed the proposal, but when it came down to the final vot,e it did not get enough support.

The council agreed to brainstorm other ways to address this topic during future meetings.

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