(WGHP) — Tuesday could bring a wave of change to Greensboro, depending on how the city votes.
On July 26, voters will decide whether Nancy Vaughan will retain her seat as mayor or if Councilmember Justin Outling will take her spot.
Seven seats on the city council will also be decided: district 1, 2, 4, 5 and three at-large seats.
Then there are the five bonds, which could fund city efforts to improve fire stations, police facilities, sidewalks and street infrastructure, city buses, affordable housing, the East Greensboro recreation center/library and the Greensboro Science Center.
Nancy Vaughan vs. Justin Outling
Since 2013, Nancy Vaughan has been the face of Greensboro, its mayor through the onslaughts of economic swings, political attacks and ultimately a pandemic.
But now a man who served the past seven of those years beside her wants her job. Justin Outling, the representative of District 3 on the Greensboro City Council since 2015, will face Vaughan on July 26 to see who will run the city at least until 2025.
Local businessman Eric Robert and former judge Mark Cummings had tossed their names in the ring but lost their spots in the race during the primary election. Vaughan and Outling, the top two vote-getters in the primary, moved on.
FOX8 spoke with both candidates about their vision for the city. You can check out their video profiles below.
Greensboro City Council
Seven of the eight incumbents serving on City Council are seeking re-election. The only one who isn’t is District 3 representative Justin Outling, who is taking on incumbent Mayor Nancy Vaughan.
Otherwise the lineup is set, and voters must:
- Select three at-large representatives on the council from among incumbents Marikay Abuzuaiter, Hugh Holston and Yvonne Johnson and challengers Tracy Furman, Katie Rossabi and Linda Wilson.
- Select a candidate in each district based on where you live:
- District 1, incumbent Sharon Hightower vs. Felton Foushee.
- District 2, incumbent Goldie Wells v. Cecile “CC” Crawford.
- District 4, incumbent Nancy Hoffmann v. Thurston H. Reeder.
- District 5, incumbent Tammi Z. Thurm vs. Tony Wilkins.
The seat Outling is vacating already has been filled by a familiar face, Zack Matheny who served District 3 until 2015, when he resigned to take over Downtown Greensboro Inc. Outling was appointed to replace him and then was re-elected in 2017. Matheny won a 3-person primary with 61.1% of the vote.
But Chip Roth, the voters’ second choice with 28.22%, withdrew because of health problems and endorsed Matheny. Roth said he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and that, after treatment, he planned to seek to serve again.
Matheny, who lost his wife, Lauren to cancer in 2020, expressed his sympathy for the situation.
“He [Matheny] has the strong experience to represent well the people of District 3,” Roth said in his withdrawal. “I also believe that he shares my commitment to improving economic development and public safety across the city.”
Otherwise, those on the ballot earned their places in the primary, when about 76,236 ballots were cast – about 20.45% of registered voters – except in District 4, where Hoffmann and Reeder were the only candidates. That’s more than twice as large a turnout as voted in the 2017 elections.
In the primary, Johnson, Abuzuaiter and Furman had the top three vote totals among the at-large candidates, but the percentages were very close. Wilson, who finished sixth, though, secured her slot by about 2,500 votes.
Hightower took 77.95% in District 1, Wells had 42.63% in District 2, and Thurm had 45.47% in District 5.
Thurm is facing a challenge from another former member of the City Council, Tony Wilkins, whom she defeated in 2017. Wilkins received 42.21% of the vote in the primary, but that margin was about 200 votes.
Greensboro bonds on the July 26 ballot
In addition to deciding who will lead the city, you will also be asked to check yes or no on a series of five bonds that were placed on the ballot as one referendum.
These bonds, approved by the council earlier this year, are for a total of $135 million that the city would repay over time. They address what council members consider are both needs and opportunities for the city.
But instead of one lump sum, voters are given the option to pick and choose those they prefer. Here are the items for you to consider:
- $14 million to renovate four fire stations.
- $6 million to “improve, secure and maintain” police facilities.
- $15 million to improve sidewalks, streets and bus infrastructure.
- $30 million to buy, build and renovate affordable housing, with a goal of increasing homeownership.
- $70 million to build a joint recreation center/library in East Greensboro and to help expand the Greensboro Science Center.
Both candidates for mayor – incumbent Nancy Vaughan and council member Justin Outling – support the bonds, as do the five of the seven incumbents on the ballot – at least to some extent.
Their challengers are more mixed on support, and two of them – at-large candidate Katie Rossabi and District 4 candidate Thurston Reeder – succinctly oppose the bonds. Incumbent council members Yvonne Johnson (at-large) and Nancy Hoffmann (District 4) and challenger Tony Wilkins (District 5) did not respond to questions from WGHP. Neither did Zack Matheny, who will take over in District 3 after Chip Roth withdrew for health reasons.