Greensboro Municipal Election EndorsementsPeacemaker Staff / October 30, 2015
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Sharon Hightower deserves a second council term
The District 1 Greensboro City Council race between two strong candidates, incumbent Sharon Hightower and challenger T. Dianne Bellamy-Small may be the most competitive race to watch in Greensboro. Hightower is completing her first term as the District 1 representative and has shown sound leadership in that position. Hightower won the seat in 2013 by defeating former incumbent Bellamy-Small, who served a decade on council. Hightower and Bellamy Small are formidable opponents.
As a former council member, Bellamy-Small championed an economic parity study in East Greensboro and she helped relocate the Hayes-Taylor YMCA to its Florida Street location at Barber Park. That move by the Y spurred Bellamy-Small to support the Florida Street extension slated to cut through the North Carolina A&T State University Farm. Bellamy-Small’s position proved unpopular with area residents and A&T alumni as the Florida Street extension became known as another Greensboro road to nowhere ending a short distance at McConnell Road. Many A&T Alumni were outraged because a road in close proximity to a farm could ultimately destabilize its existence and therefore undermine the university’s federal status as a land grant academic institution. Hightower, a homeowner and neighbor of the A&T Farm, actively opposed the Florida Street extension and subsequently decided to run in 2013 for the District 1 seat held by Bellamy-Small.
Well, if Bellamy-Small is unbossed and unbought, incumbent Hightower, is the can do public servant who works diligently for the people of her district. She’s a people person and she understands that the District 1 council seat belongs to “the people”.
If you’ve ever viewed a Greensboro City Council meeting, Hightower consistently enquires about minority business participation in city contracts. She is keenly aware that there are minority owned business owners who can consistently create and deliver quality products to the city, however, those contractors are often left out of the loop. Hightower is the one person on council who will always ask whether a city construction project has met its MWBE requirement and if not, why? Asking questions is terrific and we appreciate Hightower’s diligence in making sure minority businesses have a place at the table.
As chairperson of the East Greensboro Study Committee, Hightower has focused on improving blighted areas in East Greensboro in order to attract new businesses. Currently, several construction projects have begun in District 1 such as a new UNC Greensboro recreation center and the expansion of student housing along with street/ sidewalk improvements along Gate City Boulevard (formerly Lee Street). Plans are also in the works to redevelop a shopping center along Alamance Church Road for a new Walmart grocery store. Hightower has also supported saving and renovating old homes in the Glenwood neighborhood in order to turn those houses into safe, affordable housing for Glenwood and East Greensboro residents.
Hightower has demonstrated that she stands with the people of Greensboro when she vocally opposed the state’s unpopular redistricting plan, which creates eight districts; eliminates at-large seats; makes the mayor a non-voting member who can only vote in the case of a tie. Lastly, the city can never make changes to the districts unless it garners a supermajority vote in the state legislature.
Throughout her term, Hightower has been an available, accessible and an approachable representative who deserves a second term on council. Bellamy Small has had ten years to lead the district, now it is Hightower’s turn. The Carolina Peacemaker hereby endorses Sharon Hightower to be the District 1 Greensboro City Council representative.
This year’s Greensboro City Council and Mayoral Election may be remembered for low voter turnout, however the accomplishments of the current council members should not be forgotten.
Overall, members of the current council have worked as a cohesive group. While they disagree on many issues, this council has been able to conduct the people’s business in a respectful manner.
Most of Greensboro’s City Council challengers are new to politics. Some candidates like At-Large challenger Sylvine Hill and District 2 challenger Thessa Pickett are apparently so new to city politics that they’ve NEVER voted in a municipal election, an office in which they now aspire to serve. We find that unacceptable.
This year, most council members stood with a majority of Greensboro residents to oppose the state’s redistricting of the city, a redistricting effort led by state Sen. Trudy Wade (R-Guilford County). A majority of council members also voted to support and provide funding for the Renaissance Co-op grocery. Once established, the co-op will offer fresh produce and healthy food options to Northeast Greensboro residents.
Those council incumbents who supported these endeavors are hereby endorsed by the Carolina Peacemaker. See above for names.
Compiled by the Carolina Peacemaker editorial staff and management.
Greensboro City Council
Mayor: Nancy Vaughan
District 1: Sharon Hightower
District 2: Jamal Fox
District 3: Justin Outling
District 4: Nancy Hoffmann (unopposed)
District 5: No Endorsement (unopposed)
Vote NO on extending council terms from two to four years
Each election, which currently occurs every two years, is an effective referendum of the office holder. Frequent local elections tend to make elected office holders more aware that they have to perform on behalf of their constituents in order to hold on to a city council seat. Two year elections keep the council members accountable to the residents of Greensboro. If the council member is doing a great job, the people of Greensboro have the ability to re-elect that person. And if that person is voting for policies voters do not support, that council member can swiftly be voted out of office. For example, when Bill Knight was elected mayor of Greensboro in 2009, he and fellow council members Danny Thompson (At-Large) and Mary Rakestraw (District 4) spearheaded an effort to reopen the White Street Landfill. Those council people, along with Knight, were swept from office because residents from across the city banded together and realized that reopening White Street would systematically hamper the prospects for economic development in an already struggling part of the city, Northeast Greensboro. Therefore, council members are often more mindful of their obligations to the constituents when the term is two years rather than four. Keep council on its toes and accountable to the people. Maintain the two–year municipal election cycle.