Greensboro City Councilman Outling focuses on solving problems

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Justin Outling is a professional problem-solver.

It’s among the reasons he’s making quite a name for himself just a year-and-a-half into his elected job.

He’s 33 years old, a UNC-Greensboro/Duke Law School alum and an attorney with one of the big firms in town. He’s originally from Buffalo, New York, but moved to North Carolina with his family to finish high school in Charlotte.

“Even coming into undergraduate school at UNCG, I felt as though I really wanted to work in a profession where the focus was solving problems,” Outling said.

That really became a priority in June 2015 when he took his oath to replace Zach Matheny representing District 3 on the Greensboro City Council. Previously, Outling had served on the city’s Minimum Standard Housing Commission. So housing became a priority.

“The biggest issue or problem is really the conditions of some of the homes in our community,” he said.

So Outling pushed through a change in policy that now allows the city to make repairs to dilapidated property and then take out a lien on that property so taxpayers may one day be reimbursed.

Outling also quickly became a key figure in helping Greensboro become the first city in North Carolina to adopt guidelines for making public police body camera video. But the general assembly would later pass a law that made a court order the only way this video could be released.

“The state law provides some certainty in that it provides a path,” he said. “I think where the City of Greensboro disagrees with the state is that we would like there to be more transparency than is currently allowed in the state law -- not so many hoops that people have to go through to see this footage.”

Outling is not supportive of the council’s recent decision to give the International Civil Rights Museum 18 more months to repay taxpayers about $800,000 from a “forgivable” loan. He says he’s a big fan of the museum, but…

“I think like most museums, it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to be self-supportive. But I think successful museums have a plan for their operations and a plan for how they’re going to move in the future. And I simply don’t see that plan in place right now,” he said.

As far as economic development, Outling says Greensboro should use its own resources to accomplish its goals and further its economic prosperity. He feels those resources include the downtown-- especially if more people are encouraged to live downtown. He also believes in using the resources of and talent within the city’s colleges and universities.

“Greensboro is a wonderful, tremendous city,” he said. “If we want to make it the best city in the United States we need to continue to work together to tackle difficult problems.”