Top stories of 2022Staff Reports / December 30, 2022
Greensboro City CouncilElections that were delayed from 2021 took place this year, with many local elected officials retaining their seats. The mayoral race was a three-way challenge with attorney Mark Cummings and District 3 council member Justin Outling, both facing off against incumbent Mayor Nancy Vaughan. Vaughan won the primaries and general election, keeping her seat on the council.
At the first meeting after elections, the council adopted a resolution to release funds to begin work projects in the city, including for the Windsor-Chavis-Nocho Community Complex Project. The combination of Windsor Recreation Center, the Vance Chavis Library, and Nocho Park is a one-stop, joint facility that will celebrate and promote innovation, education, health and wellness, recreation, art, and cultural expressions.
Public SafetyGreensboro Police Chief Brian James retired after 30 years as a member of the department. James accepted a position as Chief of Police on the UNC Chapel Hill campus. Chief James joined the Greensboro Police department in 1996 and was promoted to Police Chief in 2020. The department launched a national search then chose current GPD Assistant Chief John Thompson, who has been a member of the GPD since 2003.
The GPD released a report in May 2022, that noted a 15 percent decrease in homicides since 2021. However, by July 2022, homicide numbers had surpassed the previous year with 25 compared to 23 homicides. The GPD implemented a new initiative that will allow officers across various police departments to work with each other in real-time to solve cases.
The City of Greensboro launched a new Office of Community Safety to convene police, community, and city leadership to discuss crime, mental health, and the root causes of violence. The goal is to create an alternative approach to traditional policing.
GCS EducationThe year opened with bus driver shortages in January 2022, so the district implemented a plan to allow GCS high school students to ride city buses for free. The change was temporary, with GCS able to resume traditional school bus services by March.
Voters approved a $1.7 billion school facilities bond package in May. The funds are intended to pay for construction needs, upgrades to existing facilities and to address long deferred maintenance issues.
In August, GCS broke ground on six new facilities: Kiser Middle School, Claxton Elementary School, and Brooks Global Studies; in August 23, Foust Elementary School, Peck Elementary School, and a Visual and Performing Arts Academy (formerly Peeler Open Elementary School). The construction is being funded by the $300 million school bond that voters approved in 2020.
Former Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Whitney Oakley was named as the new superintendent of Guilford County Schools in August 2022. Oakley took on the role of Acting Superintendent during the district’s national search for a replacement for her predecessor, Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras, who announced her departure from the district in January after seven years in the position.
District 8 representative Deena Hayes was elected to serve as chairperson of the Guilford County Board of Education. Hayes has served on the school board since 2002 and was first elected as the board chairperson in the summer of 2018. District 7 representative Bettye Jenkins was elected as vice chairperson. This is Jenkins’ second term on the board and her first term as vice chairperson.
Guilford CountyGuilford County hired a new Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) director, which was announced on December 14. Shaunne Thomas is now the executive director of the county’s MWBE program, which works to help minority and women owned businesses get services and sales contracts with Guilford County government. Thomas comes from the City of Charlotte, Interim Compliance Manager, where she was charged with implementing the Charlotte Business Inclusion Plan. The plan included putting into place a citywide diversity and inclusion compliance tracking system as well as a certification system for minority- women- and small-businesses, which she plans to implement in Guilford County.
Guilford County Commissioners agreed to dedicate $8 million of American Rescue Plan money for a Housing and Homelessness Task Force, to help develop plans to address homelessness. The task force launched in November and will include representatives from Guilford County and the cities of Greensboro and High Point and is staffed by county and city subject matter experts, and Continuum of Care (CoC) partners.
After COVID-19 impacted public gatherings in 2021, some of the city’s largest annual events got back underway in 2022, including: the Fun Fourth Festival, N.C. Folk Festival, North Carolina A&T State University’s Homecoming, the Veterans Day parade, and the Christmas parade.