To hear Goldsboro City Councilman Antonio Williams put it, the controversy surrounding his residency in District 1 is best left in the past.
Other council members seemed to agree, to varying degrees, at the council's Monday meeting, the first since the Wayne County Board of Elections declined to pursue a full hearing into the issue of Williams' residency, on July 10.
Speaking during a press conference at 4 p.m. Monday at Goldsboro City Hall, Williams called accusations that he had lived outside his district "gossip" pushed by "conspiring groups with self-serving agendas," and said that the anonymous letter which kicked off inquiries into his residency was without merit from the start.
"It was simply a tactic used to try to subvert the electoral process by removing the voice of the community -- my voice," he said.
The unsigned letter Williams referred to was delivered to the council in April and accused Williams of living outside District 1, which would warrant him losing his spot on the council. When the council gave Williams 48 hours to provide his address within the district, he declined to do so, and has never revealed where he lived during that period of time.
Williams did say that he had been living with relatives inside the district and did not want to reveal his address out of concern for his and his relatives' safety.
In June, Goldsboro resident Zach Lilly challenged Williams' residency, alleging that he did not live in his voting precinct, which would disqualify him from serving on the council. The Board of Elections, at the recent preliminary voter challenge hearing, decided that Lilly had not presented enough evidence to prove that Williams was presently living outside of his district, thus declining to pursue the matter further.
Williams seemed excited to put the last few months behind him, saying that he wants to focus on the issues of poverty and racial diversity in Goldsboro. Councilman David Ham, while not as enthusiastic, said he was ready to be done with it, as well.
"I think I'm ready to put it to bed for the good of the community, as well as the city council," he said.
Ham did add that Williams was partially to blame for his predicament, having refused multiple times to clear up the question of his residency.
"I think that Mr. Williams and his comments have brought about part of the issues that he had to deal with," he said. "I'll just leave it at that."
Councilman Bevan Foster was more of a mind with Williams, and hoped that the council could move past the issue after several contentious months. Referring to people in the community determined to keep pressing the issue, Foster called the idea "ridiculous."
"I'm hoping that it's over with," Foster said. "I'm hearing some things in the community that some folks are saying it's not over, that they're going to keep fighting it, and that's just ridiculous.
"Just let it go. It's over, and it's done with."