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More women among city leadership in Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro City Council welcomes two new members after election results came in Tuesday.

Both Michelle Kennedy and Tammi Thurm won their respective races, beating out incumbents.

“It felt like to me that Greensboro was ready for a progressive change,” said Kennedy, winner of the at-large race.

Kennedy is the executive director of the Interactive Resource Center in Greensboro, which is an organization dedicated to helping the homeless.

This is an issue she says she hopes to further address.

“[We] have to address that 20 percent of our community is living in poverty. So that's a really pressing issue for me and that bleeds into affordable housing, access to living wage jobs,” Kennedy said.

Thurm, winner of the district five race, is a long-time Greensboro resident. She has been working more than 30 years in the area.

She hopes to tackle what she says is an issue in her district.

“For me one of my issues that I think really impacts district five is public transportation. As we build development and infrastructure we need to build out into district five,” Thurm said.

However, this year's election wasn't only significant because of the number of years council will now serve, but significant because of the shift of politics with Kennedy and Thurm coming.

“I think first of all it's a seat change to the left of the political spectrum and I would say its very analogize to 2008, 2009 right after the election of Obama when we saw the emergence of the Tea Party,” said Dr. Jeff Jones, Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Right now, eight of the nine Greensboro City Council members are women.

“I would like to think that it would foreshadow some positive changes with regards to things like women's health issues on the local level, child care issues. Honestly, only time will tell,” Jones said.

Jones says voter turnout this year was up to just under 15 percent compared to the 11 percent who showed up to the polls two years ago. This is something he says also played a role.

“It’s the first time in our history that there's not a single white man on our city council. So, there is a change and it will be a pretty visible change. But I think the ultimate question is about is whether this council can come together and work cohesively,” Kennedy said.

“The biggest thing for the citizens of Greensboro to be as transparent as we can when we can, to explain the process and make sure people understand what's going on in their city...and that's really what they care about what they want to know about,” Thurm said.

Council's two newest members will take over their seats starting next month.