District 4 candidates discuss the city’s issuesBy Yasmine Regester / September 29, 2017
Two candidates are going head to head for the Greensboro City Council District 4 seat. Voters will decide between Incumbent Nancy Hoffmann and challenger Gary Kenton in the primaries on October 10.
Hoffmann has held the seat since 2011 and is running for reelection.
“I feel the same way I did in the beginning. My reasons for wanting to serve another term remain essentially unchanged. Quite simply it is to provide leadership that drives and challenges us to think bigger and bolder every day about our city and what we can be,” said Hoffmann.
Hoffmann has served three terms on city council as the District 4 representative. Before that she spent 22 years in the textile and home furnishings industry, and believes that her experience will help her continue to represent the district. She currently serves on the boards of Preservation Greensboro, Green Hill Public Art Endowment, Guilford College Board of Visitors, Institute of Political Leadership, Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce Advisory Committee. She previously served as the City Human Relations Commission Chair and the Citizens Complaint Review Committee Chair.
Hoffmann said if reelected she wants to focus attention on the future and mentoring young leaders in the community. She also said she has a vision to direct the investment of resources to support the growth of businesses that are already in Greensboro, to attract new businesses, and to provide entrepreneurs the environment they want for their start-ups.
She said the most pressing issue council is facing is economic development and how the city addresses bringing living wages jobs, infill development, the repurposing of existing buildings in urban neighborhoods, and affordable housing.
“We must invest in quality of life assets. Businesses demand a skilled labor force and want to relocate to cities with exceptional livability,” said Hoffmann. “These critical issues go hand in hand.”While some have criticized Hoffmann for being more subdued on council than some of her colleagues, she said she sees being a quiet, thoughtful leader as strength.
“I think authenticity is important in terms of leadership. One of the things that interested me most about politics is that local government has the ability to change lives. And I really believe that at the local government level is where we can achieve the greatest outcomes,” said Hoffmann.
Kenton is a retired communications professor and former special education teacher. He has been a key player in GSO Operation Transparency, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting government and police transparency. Kenton was one of seven people arrested as he participated in civil disobedience when the group demanded the city release the Greensboro Police Department’s investigative file on Dejuan Yourse, a resident who was assaulted by a police officer without provocation in 2014.
“I support neighborhood safety everywhere, but the road to that is very different in District 4,” said Kenton. “Relations there with the police are not as fraught as they are in other parts of Greensboro. The groups I’m with have been very critical of the police and we feel very sincerely about those criticisms.”
He is also on the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters and a founding member of Democracy Greensboro.
In addition to addressing public safety concerns, Kenton says he is using the Council Candidate platform created by Democracy Greensboro to lead his campaign. The platform supports economic justice, social justice, and criminal and civil justice for all. He said he believes that the creation and retention of jobs that can support families should be at the top of the council agenda.
“I believe that the City Council should focus on economic development that invests in projects and programs that serve the entire community,” said Kenton. “On many of the issues that matter most to middle class and poor people in Greensboro, Nancy Hoffmann has been conspicuously silent.”
Kenton said zoning and planning have emerged as the topics people bring up the most to him.
“Particular land use and zoning decisions that seem to favor development interests over individual property owner interests are a concern, and the process in which these decisions are reached lack transparency,” he said.
Although his first political run to the city council, Kenton added he is an activist for the people first.
“I first made my reputation in Greensboro on environmental issues but I’m known as an activist. You don’t stop being an activist if you get elected. My first allegiance is to the people. I will be a team player on the city council,” said Kenton.
Primary elections are October 10. The General Election is November 7. Early voting runs from September 21 – October 7.