Watauga councilman: City’s award nothing more than a publicity stunt

The Watauga city council received the Stone of Hope award for affordable housing from the Rev. Kyev Tatum, but not all council members stood after one member called it a “fake award and a campaign stunt.” By

A controversy is brewing over an award recognizing Watauga for its affordable housing prices with a councilman calling it a “fake award and a campaign stunt.”

The city received the Stone of Hope award from the Tarrant County chapter of the Southern Leadership Conference at Monday’s council meeting for its affordable housing prices and efforts to keep property taxes low, according to the Rev. Kyev Tatum, a Fort Worth activist and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Tarrant County.

But discussions on why the city is receiving the award took off on social media over the weekend after councilman Scott Prescher posted that the award is from a “professional protester” and a campaign stunt for David Griffin, the mayor pro tem who is running for mayor.

Tatum called Prescher’s statements racist and demanded Prescher’s resignation.

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“I am completely broken over this, and no one has ever said those things about me,” Tatum said.

After Tatum presented the award to the city Monday night, several audience members and a city councilwoman criticized Prescher for his views about the recognition.

“It saddens me to see that a background check has to be done on a pastor,” Councilwoman Kim Irving said, referring to Tatum. “We have to be gracious when someone comes to our home and show them respect.”

Tatum called Watauga a “model for the nation” when it comes to affordable housing and how the city works together. He said he is gathering civil rights leaders in October to study “what Watauga is doing right.”

In 2016 and 2017, Watauga was recognized by Realtor.com as the hottest housing market in the country because of its affordability, strong economy and young population. The city of about 25,000 in northeast Tarrant County is within the boundaries of two highly-rated school districts, Birdville and Keller.

But Prescher is questioning the validity of the award, saying the city has “nothing to do with the pricing of homes in Watauga.”

A press release from Tatum announcing the award states, “We strongly encourage Mayor Pro Tem David Griffin and other leaders to continue to uplift their city. They have become a raising star and a pride and joy for Tarrant County.”

Prescher wrote in his Facebook post, “I find it a convenient coincidence that this man uses the phrase ‘uplift their city’ when David just posted a campaign event recently for people to ‘uplift Watauga.’ ”

Griffin hosted an event called “Uplift Watauga!” on Sunday.

Tatum gave the invocation before the meeting as everyone stood.

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