See the full results of the May 17 primary elections.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – First the election date was delayed, then it was again, and now it has a firm date, and through all those meanderings the interest to serving on the Greensboro City Council appears to be unwavering.

Early, in-person voting began last Thursday for the Primary Election in North Carolina, which culminates May 17, and voting for the Greensboro City Council, which was to have occurred last year, is underway with 27 names on the ballot for mayor and four district and three at-large seats. And there isn’t even an election right now in District 4 (more on that later).

And that brings us to this note of explanation: Unlike all the other races up and down the ballot, city elections are non-partisan and take on a little different form. Any race with more than three candidates is required to winnow down to a final two – or six if you are talking double the number required to fill the at-large seats.

Those winners move on to the city’s General Election, which will be on July 26, the runoff date for any partisan elections. Are you following? If you live in the city, your final vote is July 26 no matter what else happens on May 17.

This was all supposed to happen in 2021 as part of the regular cycle for municipal elections, but then there was that census issue, which delated population counts, which delayed the ability to draw the lines for the city’s five electoral districts. Rather than do some hybrid election calendar, the city decided to adopt this schedule. That was scheduled for March, but then you know how the court fight over congressional and state legislative maps delayed it all again. Thus current council members all have longer terms, and those elected will have to run again in 2025 (barring some future change).

Mayor Nancy Vaughan and all nine incumbents are on the ballot for re-election, and Vaughan has three challengers by herself. There are also four candidates in District 2, and there are 10 for the at-large seats.

Only in District 4, where 11-year incumbent Nancy Hoffman is facing Thurston H. Reeder Jr., is there no need for a primary. Voters in that district will make their choice July 26.

Here are the candidates on the ballot for Greensboro City Council:

  • At-large candidates: Incumbents Marikay Abuzuaiter, Yvonne Johnson and Hugh Holston and Tally L. Buchanan, Melodi Fentress, Tracy Furman, Franca Jalloh, Dustin Keene, Katie Rossabi and Linda Wilson.
  • District 1: Incumbent Sharon Hightower, Felton Foushee and Timothy Kirkpatrick.
  • District 2: Incumbent Goldie Wells, Cecile “CC” Crawford, LaToya Bernie Gathers and Portia Shipman.
  • District 3: Bill Marshburn, Zack Matheny and Chip Roth.
  • District 4: Incumbent Nancy Hoffman and Thurston H. Reeder Jr.
  • District 5: Incumbent Tammi Z. Thurm, Robert Bodenhamer and Tony Wilkins.

Questions and answers

WGHP attempted to ask five uniform questions of every candidate on the ballot. But many declined to respond, and at least two candidates for City Council did not have working email addresses on the forms they filed to register with the NC Board of Elections.

There were responses from only four candidates – and two incumbents – for the at-large seats. The email address Lisa Wilson had provided did not work.

There were no answers from the three candidates for District 1, although incumbent Sharon Hightower did respond to the email to say she wouldn’t be participating. The email address on the BOE’s files for Felton Foushee did not work, either.

All four candidates in the race for District 2 responded, as did at least two candidates in Districts 3 and 5.

For those who did participate we present here their lightly edited responses, broken down by the districts and in alphabetical order.

At-large

Marikay Abuzuaiter (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)
Tracy Furman (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)
Hugh Holston (PHOTO FROM CANDIDATE)
Dustin Keene (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)

Why do you want to be part of the Greensboro City Council?

MARIKAY ABUZUAITER: Having been on the Greensboro City Council since 2011, I want to continue being part of the Greensboro City Council as I am able to advocate for the issues I am passionate about – public safety, economic development and our infrastructure/transportation.  Over the last 10 years I have had the honor of collaborating with my colleagues on many initiatives and endeavors. I believe that my commonsense approach to issues has helped me gain widespread support with my constituents.  My ongoing work with the Family Justice Center, Crimestoppers, Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation, Municipal Planning Organization and many other boards shows my passion for serving my community. I am proud to say that I am also able to advocate for small businesses having owned a small, independently owned business for 22 years.

TRACY FURMAN: I feel strongly that new people bring new ideas to elected office.  After attending City Academy in 2017 I knew that I could bring new ideas and the drive to move our city forward.  We are growing and we need leadership that can plan that growth so that our housing, jobs and transportation work at peak level at all times.  We are already behind in all three areas and need to find new solutions, and I want to work with others on council to bring those solutions to fruition.

HUGH HOLSTON: I am running for GSO City Council because I am a problem solver, not a politician. I want to use my experience and my voice to champion my Three Pillars for Progress (Economic Development – Public Safety – Community Engagement). I am confident that my vision of “Go B.I.G. – Believe in Greensboro” will result in solutions that have positive outcomes for the way that every existing, and prospective, resident and business lives, works, and engages in Greensboro. Even before City Council members voted unanimously (8-0) in September 2021 for me to fulfill an unexpired term, I had established a long-term track record of success in building relationships, working in the community, and gaining invaluable local government experience to create solutions. I have continued that work since joining City Council and would be honored to have the opportunity to be re-elected to another term to continue to drive positive impacts on behalf of the citizens of Greensboro.

DUSTIN KEENE: At this point in my life my focus is on growth and contribution. As someone who was born and raised in Greensboro, I feel the best way I can give back is by serving my city and more importantly the citizens who live in it.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing Greensboro in the next four years?  

MARIKAY ABUZUAITER: Issues facing Greensboro for the next four years are reducing crime, increasing our housing stock, keeping our infrastructure sound and keeping the momentum going on our recent economic development successes and supplying the trained workforce for the businesses that are locating here.

TRACY FURMAN: We are about to grow rapidly with the large new companies moving to this area.  We need to get our road, public transportation, housing, and business opportunities up to speed before these companies open.  We have other pressing issues, homelessness, crime, police policy are just three that also need immediate attention.

HUGH HOLSTON:

  1. Housing: Our city needs more solutions on homelessness, affordable housing, and the housing mix (e.g. below market, single-family, townhome, multifamily, etc.) in all areas of the City. Regarding homelessness, we can begin to address by further supporting and investing in the existing subject matter experts who are already addressing the issue such as the IRC, Housing Consultants Group, Housing Solutions, Greensboro Housing Coalition, etc. From a policy standpoint, City Council can assist by addressing zoning ordinances, density requirements, and housing options to provide for a wider range and size of housing types such as additional dwelling units, container homes, tiny homes, etc.
  2. Economic Development: First up are jobs, jobs, jobs. It is vitally important that the city of Greensboro regain and build upon the momentum of economic investment and expansion. This includes small businesses which make up 98% of all businesses in Greensboro. The job and career opportunities that arise from job creation will make it easier to attract and retain young talent and local college graduates in our community creating an even more vibrant and economically dynamic community. This also includes creating an environment that promotes livable wages and a better overall quality of life.
  3. Public Safety:  It is imperative that we take intentional action to maintain and protect Greensboro’s residents and our reputation as a “family-friendly” city.  This includes proper staffing, training, tools, and investment in police, fire, and Metro 911 to improve response times and citizen interactions, reduce crime, while also scaling services for the anticipated growth in the City such as new fire stations, etc.

DUSTIN KEENE: While there are many issues facing our city, I believe affordable housing may be the biggest. We have more people moving to Greensboro than we have housing for which is driving up the cost of housing to a level a lot of those who work in the city soon cannot afford to live in the city. 

How has your personal experience/journey positioned you – uniquely or otherwise – to help the city through this period? 

MARIKAY ABUZUAITER:  My experiences over the years have certainly helped mold me into a person who really wants to serve her community and make it the best it can be.  Owning a small business reinforced my beliefs on how important the decisions made by our city leaders affect every single resident, every single day.  I decided at that time to become more involved in our city, and I started learning everything I could about how our city functions. My unique experience as a restaurant owner certainly helped me become an involved city council person who brings common sense to all of my decisions. 

TRACY FURMAN: I am a Greensboro native. I moved away for college and spent some time in Baltimore and Washington DC before returning to raise my family in 2000.  I am a small business owner and executive director for Triad Local First, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting locally-owned independent businesses. I was appointed to the Minimum Housing Standards Commission in 2019.  I am running at large to support all of Greensboro. I have been endorsed by Guilford For All and the Guilford County Community PAC.

HUGH HOLSTON: What differentiates me is that I am uniquely positioned and prepared to serve successfully for the benefit of all of Greensboro. I am the right person, in the right role, at the right time with the following skills:

  • BUSINESS & FINANCE: My track record of over 30 years of finance and business experience with Wells Fargo, AT&T, and Lincoln Financial affords me the skills to hit the ground running. I understand balance sheets, income statements and other financial documents that will help drive future decisions that impact Greensboro. I welcome the complex analysis and review needed to ensure that City Council is a good steward of tax dollars and other funding sources.
  • ZONING & PLANNING: My planning and zoning experience as chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission and as chair of the Board of Adjustment has prepared me to understand complex zoning and land use opportunities and issues that are destined to arise with the tremendous expansion anticipated in housing and business growth in Greensboro. I am ready to help Greensboro successfully manage, update and scale our land use development ordinances for the future.
  • PROJECT MANAGEMENT: My experience with project management helps me to better appreciate what it takes to stand up a business operation, make payroll, lead in the face of the market forces of supply and demand, and attract and retain employees. This real-world experience will be invaluable for the future success of Greensboro.
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: My over 30 years of grassroots leadership, engagement, and relationship development experience with community organizations such as the Greensboro Housing Coalition, Communities in Schools of Greater Greensboro,  NCCJ, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, Guilford Child Development, the United Way, Community Theatre of Greensboro, and the AT&T Pioneers Volunteer Network has prepared me to better understand the ‘kitchen table’ needs and issues that impact all residents in Greensboro and to develop, implement, and review programs that will have meaningful outcomes.

DUSTIN KEENE: As an entrepreneur and a job creator I believe my approach is very different than those who have been sitting on our current council for years. I feel investing with our collective funds to provide sustainable residual income opportunities for our city is key as opposed to just giving huge sums of money to people who do not pay back their loans nor deserve free money in the form of grants for ideas that are never going to work and only benefits one or few individuals. We must operate for the greater good of everyone.

What have been decisions made by city leaders that you wish would get another review? 

MARIKAY ABUZUAITER:  I think we need to take another look at some form of a panhandling license.  We had one for years, but it was voted down several years ago.  It doesn’t cost anything to the applicant but actually helps protect the panhandler as well as those who are being asked for money.

TRACY FURMAN:  I would like to pause the Receivership Program that was put in place from a consent agenda vote in August 2020 until some of the vagueness and process can be ironed out.  

HUGH HOLSTON: The decision on the siting of the White Street landfill. Although another review is highly unlikely, the circumstances involved in the original decision should be remembered as a learning lesson for better, more respectful community engagement and buy-in with a project that has such a major impact on a neighborhood, community, and important sector of the city.

DUSTIN KEENE: I feel we overpay for underdelivering a lot. For example the $120 million on the performing arts center, for that kind of money we could have built something architecturally stunning that the nation would have taken notice of. Instead we have a beige box. I believe in starting where we are using what we have to do what we can will result in doing far more with our current dollars by being creative and responsible on behalf of the people of Greensboro. 

What is your wish list for the city? 

MARIKAY ABUZUAITER: That every resident of Greensboro lives in a safe environment and has the opportunity to have housing, a good-paying job, good transportation opportunities and the ability to be able to have enough time to enjoy everything that Greensboro has to offer.  Our parks, trails, venues, entertainment, businesses and restaurants are top notch and I wish that every resident is able to enjoy them!

TRACY FURMAN:  We are a beautiful city and need growth to sustain our character and continue to offer opportunity to everyone who lives here. I wish we can find ways to continuously support our neighbors in all successes.  We do this through public transportation that supports all parts of the city, parks and a parks and rec system that offer great programs and beautiful spaces, homes that everyone can afford, and jobs that pay wages so that people do not need two or three jobs to make ends meet.  Last but not least, I want to support services that reduce violent crime and keep us safe.  

HUGH HOLSTON:

  • My Go B.I.G. vision will be driven by choosing  “And & Both” not “Either/Or.” We can create multiple, concurrent solutions that are reasonable, fiscally responsible, and impactful!  
  • We need to shore up our public safety so that everyone feels served, protected, and respected.
  • We need to develop creative housing solutions to improve affordability and mobility throughout the city
  • We also need to develop a public transit system that connects our city and drives residents to ‘want’ to use the transit system, instead of ‘having’ to use it.
  • We need to encourage and promote economic development that attracts and retains students/residents while also provide good wages and a high quality of life.
  • We need to convene ‘critical conversation’ forums on social justice and racial equity by bringing together the various community players who need to be heard and who also need to listen.

DUSTIN KEENE: Creating more self-sufficient neighborhoods that have grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants that you can walk to. Improving our transportation system so we can be a hop on hop off city. Oh and a Ferris wheel. I really want to put a Ferris wheel downtown as a major city attraction. 

District 2

CC Crawford (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)
Latyoya Bernice Gathers (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)
Portia Shipman (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)
Goldie Wells (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)

Why do you want to be part of the Greensboro City Council?

CECILE “CC” CRAWFORD: I am running for City Council because I want people to be able to afford a safe and decent place to live, because there are too many people who work hard and do not bring home enough money to take care of themselves and their families, and because the violence in this city is not going to stop until we address the root causes. I am running because I want people who are just trying to make it, to have a seat at the table when decisions are being made about the city’s priorities. District 2 has a lot of people who are left out of these decisions too often – Black people, immigrants and those seeking refuge, poor and working-class people, and middle-class people who all deserve a seat at the table. I plan to open the doors to the amazing creativity and innovative ways and ideas our communities have for addressing issues in our district.

LATOYA BERNICE GATHERS: I am running because I believe “When all Voices are Heard, Change Occurs.” No one’s voice should go unnoticed. There should be no one left behind. No one should be subjected to exclusionary speech of any kind. The participation and representation of all citizens in democratic institutions and processes is essential to democracy. This is the belief that every citizen, regardless of class, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, group, cultural, ethnic or religious background, should have an equal right and opportunity to participate in and contribute to the operation of these institutions and processes.

PORTIA SHIPMAN: I am running because I know that I can genuinely make a difference in the lives of all of the residents in District 2. People know me and can trust that I will work hard to get the answers they have been waiting to receive. I firmly believe that if you begin a task, you should never leave it until it is completed. We need active representation to include transparency, openness and satisfactory solutions. I can bring all of this to District 2. 

GOLDIE WELLS: We have made a lot of progress. We’ve seen things happen for the betterment of our community, but the job is not over. It’s because the work is not finished. I’d like the opportunity to continue working. Some projects have been started that haven’t been completed, and there are plans being made that haven’t been fully developed. That’s the reason I’d like to serve for the next four years to see some of the things that I’ve started working on come to fruition.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing Greensboro in the next four years?

CECILE “CC” CRAWFORD: Low wages are a significant factor for many of us in the working class. We were asking for $15 an hour more than 10 years ago, and that is the absolute bare minimum. But, to live in our city we need more. The city has the ability to pay all city workers livable wages and recently approved the step plan with a base salary of $15/hr. However, the way the City Council implemented this had the unwanted effect of experienced workers with decades on the job being paid less for their years of service than new hires. I would honor the years of service these workers have put into our city. When the city sets the standard for paying a living wage, other employers are encouraged to do the same. I also think we need to focus our economic development on the small businesses that are here in Greensboro. We can’t win with a trickle-down approach. We must build our economy with local businesses that have ties to, and roots in the community. Housing is another problem. We need rental housing that isn’t 50% plus of our income, more houses that are at a price point where people can afford to buy them, and a chance for more people to gain equity in a racially biased banking system. First we need to keep people in their homes. We need an Eviction Legal Defense Fund (money set aside to help people facing an eviction), and a Right to Counsel, in order to help people navigate the very expensive eviction process with a lawyer to help them in court. I want to build more homes that people can actually afford, and give people who have eviction records and criminal records a second chance. We can either start to address some of these housing issues now, with the City Council working proactively in the best interest of its constituents, or continue to see people pushed out of their homes and struggling to afford them. And, lastly, we must ensure that the elderly are allowed to stay in their homes by better funding housing safety nets like the Housing Coalition, and organizations of the like.

LATOYA BERNICE GATHERS: These are the three concerns I would prioritize:

  • Assist the police department in recruiting officers to fill vacancies that are having a substantial impact on the amount of patrol officers we have on a daily basis.
  • Invest in and partner with others to enhance young people’s workforce development initiatives, so helping to reduce violence. The city council and real estate developers, in my opinion, should collaborate.
  • Bans that are too broad stifle economic growth. Local governments should rely on supply and demand and assess each project individually. I’m also quite concerned about climate change. Increase the availability of choices for energy efficiency and renewable energy production, particularly in Green Zones, is important.

PORTIA SHIPMAN: One of Greensboro’s most prominent issues is racial inequity and justice inequality, access to resources, and better opportunities. It’s been evident for quite some time that specific neighborhoods are simply undeveloped and are overlooked. Specifically, in District 2, those undeveloped and overlooked neighborhoods are predominantly low-income and communities of color, specifically Black and Latino.

Positive policing and trust is another main issue we face in Greensboro. Until the community at large can trust the police, fear will prevail on both sides. Fear brings violence and a lack of empathy. All police are not bad. However, the bad ones make it hard on those who genuinely care. Greensboro can adopt a resolution where all people are treated fairly during a confrontation with the police. Fostering relationships in our community by encouraging events that include police invitations will help to build more trust as well. 

GOLDIE WELLS:

  • Public safety.
  • Affordable housing and housing stock.
  • Transportation.
  • Jobs that pay livable wages and beyond.
  • Our environment and health.

How has your personal experience/journey positioned you uniquely or otherwise – to help the city through this period?

CECILE “CC” CRAWFORD: At various points in my life, I have found myself where many residents currently find themselves: navigating the challenges of parenthood, serious illness, or the struggles to earn a livable wage. I have been on my bathroom floor, with my hand over my mouth so my children couldn’t hear me crying, trying to figure out where we would be able to live. When I think about Greensboro’s economy, I’m not thinking about if the rich are getting richer – I’m thinking about what we can do to keep parents from having more moments like that. Too many residents are just one serious illness, injury, or financial emergency away from disabling debt. I have organized around housing, healthcare and mental health safety with local and national organizations. I bring a network of relationships in many areas with me and continue to build that network out in order to better understand issues that face people in District 2, and ways we can address them from City Council.

LATOYA BERNICE GATHERS: I have served as treasurer of Triad Pride Performing Arts and on the Guilford County Planning Commission Board. I have been affiliated with the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and the Junior League of Greensboro. Working for Doctors Without Borders allowed me to hone a variety of abilities that would serve me well on the council. Working at DWB taught me how to resolve conflicts on a wide scale. On a DWB assignment, you may meet people in one location to complete a task or combat a sickness. When flights are inaccessible or there is continuing civil unrest, you must deal with challenges such as how to move items from Amsterdam or Brussels to the center of Burundi. In DWB, you must also be resourceful and learn to make the most of limited resources. Conflict-resolution abilities, the ability to care for a whole community with limited resources, and the ability to make constructive decisions that influence an entire village distinguish me.

PORTIA SHIPMAN: For over 30 years, I was either a home care agency owner or worker at Shipman Family Home Care and Reliable Home Care. Also, as the former executive director and founder of the Sherri Denese Jackson Foundation for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, I had the opportunity to work directly inside people’s homes. I have been inside those homes. I have heard the voices and cries of the community. The difference between home care and domestic violence is one group needed someone to care for them with activities of daily living due to old age or physical disability to care for themselves. The second group needed emergency help, shelter and protection because of someone else’s negligence. I am a hometown girl from several housing communities in this city. I have been watching the changing of them guards for many years. I find it very disturbing that things just have not changed on the east side and north side of Greensboro. It is time for change. I will use all I have to research and provide the answers we are desperately seeking in order to serve the residents of Greensboro. I will continue to be a voice for the voiceless. 

GOLDIE WELLS: My experience as a grassroots leader in my community and in the city has afforded me the opportunity to work with citizens and city leaders to bring about change. The issues that face us will require negotiation, deliberation, and compromise to resolve these issues that confront our city. I think the experience and the successful results of my leadership in the past equipped me for the task.

What have been decisions made by city leaders that you wish would get another review?

CECILE “CC” CRAWFORD: What happened to Marcus Smith [who died in police custody] should never have happened. He went to the police for help and paid with his life. To add insult to injury, his mother Mary, and the rest of the family was maligned, ridiculed, and given no respect in the midst of their loss. There was no accountability on the part of the City Council, or the police. Our city spent time and our money refusing to admit any responsibility for Marcus’ death. When it comes down to mental health crises, we should work to implement a CAHOOTS model approach – a public safety system that sends out a medic and a crisis worker who has training and experience in the mental health field and is trained on trauma-informed de-escalation. These teams handle conflict resolution, welfare checks, substance abuse, and suicide threats. In Eugene, Oregon, where the program started, they had 24,000 CAHOOTS calls and only needed police backup 150 times. This model would go a long way to decrease the incidents of violence against those in crisis, and free up the police to focus on investigating violent crimes. 

LATOYA BERNICE GATHERS: There are not enough affordable housing options in my neighborhood. Affordability of housing continues to be a problem in Guilford County. We need a multi-pronged approach that combines financial investments, development incentives, updated planning and zoning rules, anti-displacement initiatives, non-profit collaborations, and new rent stability and affordable homeownership programs to address our housing affordability crisis. I believe City Council and real estate developer should work together. Sweeping bans hinder economic growth. Local government should trust in supply and demand and evaluate each project on its own merit.

PORTIA SHIPMAN: The Marcus Deon Smith trial. It was a tragedy that should have never happened. In my humblest opinion, the city of Greensboro got off easy with this settlement. I am not happy about the result. Again, we have a long road ahead of us in the area of justice inequality. I believe in the residents of Greensboro, and I want to make sure we get there.

GOLDIE WELLS: I wish we had been able to address the Marcus Deon Smith case in a different way. We were unable, because of legal reasons, to share with the public what was going on between the city and his family. I believe this caused the citizens to mistrust the council. We were following the law. We chose to follow the law. But it damaged the perception of the council’s honesty and transparency which takes time to rebuild. I realized that trust is very important in any relationship, and I believe because we were unable to share information, the citizens’ trust level in the council was lowered.

What is your wish list for the city?

CECILE “CC” CRAWFORD: If I had a magic lamp with three wishes, I would wish for social housing that allowed for land trusts and the ability to have adequate housing that was truly affordable and didn’t rise and fall with the market. I would wish for a governmental system that didn’t criminalize poverty, residency status, color and mental illness. Lastly, I would wish for better

engagement with our immigrant neighbors and community seeking refuge, offering more funding, translation options, and stronger enforcement against discrimination.

LATOYA BERNICE GATHERS: I would invest in institutions of higher education as engines of innovation and job creation, foster communities, utilizing untapped talent to drive higher economic returns as well as greater equity, and build basic infrastructure to ensure future growth and to retain a highly trained local workforce. I want to work towards:

  • Expand options for energy efficiency and renewable energy production targeted especially at Green Zones and all communities.
  • Invest in mobility hubs and other mechanisms that support increased mobility with fewer cars and less driving.
  • Invest in green workforce development to provide employment and job training opportunities for union workers and workers from underrepresented communities.

PORTIA SHIPMAN:

  • Racial equity & resources: I will examine racial disparities by supporting policies that promote racial equity and create access to resources for the advancement of the residents of District 2 with transparency as it relates to gentrification, housing, employment, mental health, and business opportunities.
  • Positive policing & trust: I will work to build trust and relationships between the residents of District 2 and law enforcement to ensure adequate protection, safety and reducing re-offenses. Residents deserve to feel safe in their homes and confident that crimes will be fully investigated.
  • Empowering youth: I will support youth initiatives that empower our at-risk youth and our future leaders. I understand that youth empowerment can curb the rate of poverty, improve education standards, and reduce crime.

GOLDIE WELLS:

  • Affordable housing.
  • Crime and drug-free streets and neighborhoods.
  • Neighborhoods where neighbors know each other.
  • A city where differences are accepted and celebrated.
  • A city where everyone has food to eat, a safe place to live, a job or source of income to sustain their chosen lifestyle, and transportation to places they wish to go.

District 3

Why do you want to be part of the Greensboro City Council?

Zack Matheny (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)
Bill Marshburn (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)

BILL MARSHBURN: To protect the individual citizens rights. I see it as a duty. From my experience with the city, it would be irresponsible for me not to be on the ballot.

ZACK MATHENY: My experience managing the economic and social development of the center city gives me a special skillset and clear understanding of what it takes to do the job that the entire city of Greensboro needs today.  Since my last tenure in office, I have further developed my skillset to fit within the needs of our entire community.  I understand the time commitment of holding office, and I understand how important this city is to my family – which is one reason I want to do everything in my power to provide the best community not just for my family, but for all families in the Triad. I’m running because I want Greensboro to not only see but fulfill its potential. With the highest number of recorded homicides and violent crimes in 2020, our families deserve so much more… safety, new job growth, a Greensboro that will thrive well into the future. I have lived in this district for 21 years and I look forward to representing all members of this community.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing Greensboro in the next four years?

BILL MARSHBURN: The austerity to come. That may be a mild word to describe a worsening situation.  An economic collapse, with the dollar losing its control of world currency.

We will need to feed and house people. We are way past the 11th hour for this. This will lead to crime by people needing food and shelter, particularly for families. Jobs that will produce food and home ownership. Food needs to be up front, of course. Housing must be earned and need not be in the city. Industry needs to return to the United States. We need to avoid the dissolution of the United States. The biggest problem is spiritual.

ZACK MATHENY: Greensboro is experiencing tremendous growth with new jobs such as Toyota and Boom – and I’m confident the list will continue to grow. With this growth, it is inevitable we will also experience problems, coupled with national economic and social issues. Greensboro will need to govern to accommodate new housing stock for the entire community (regardless of income) and an increased need for public safety, all while appropriately managing the budget.  

How has your personal experience/journey positioned you – uniquely or otherwise – to help the city through this period?

BILL MARSHBURN: I was arrested in 2008 under false charges, the day District 3 was forcibly annexed. It took me 3 years to clear my name of numerous charges. I learned a lot about our city and state mechanizations in removing our individual rights under the Constitution. This has been to a great extent through federal/city partnerships and city of Greensboro Corp./stakeholder partnerships.

ZACK MATHENY: I have lived, worked, and served in District 3 for over 20 years. In 2005, I was appointed to the Zoning Commission, where I was able to work closely with city staff and the community. In 2007, I ran and won my first election representing District 3 and quickly realized how challenging it can be to represent the interest of so many constituents.  You can compare this experience to the maturation of life – as you age and mature, whether personally or professionally, the more time you have, the more you understand how things really work.  Over my four terms as the District 3 representative, we were able to provide numerous positive impacts for the greater community including public safety initiatives and economic development, all while keeping a level tax rate.  My current role as president of Downtown Greensboro, Inc. has further opened my eyes to our strengths and weaknesses, and with a new city manager on board, now more than ever I see the need for partnership across all districts to ensure our city succeeds for all citizens.

What have been decisions made by city leaders that you wish would get another review?

BILL MARSHBURN: I do not wish another review. I will demand, and on the council will demand a RUCO 2 revision. I will demand a return to our rights in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. 

ZACK MATHENY: We need to perform a proper strategic action plan for growth of the city for being proactive versus reactive. If elected, I want to look with a forward-thinking process of governing for all people. Let’s show folks what our city is capable of, not because we are reacting to controversary, but rather we are visioning for our future. 

What is your wish list for the city?

BILL MARSHBURN: My best wishes and prayers are that we as a people become aware, hopefully through self-education, more than through stark harsh reality.  That we become aware, on mass, of the true history of our country, from Nov. 22, 1963, to now. From Sept. 11, 2001, to now.

ZACK MATHENY: Greensboro is experiencing tremendous growth from work being done over the last 10 years.  How we manage this growth and achieve even more potential will be key to moving forward.  My wish has always been for Greensboro to achieve its potential – and I truly believe we are on the cusp to realizing a tremendous potential.  My goal for Greensboro is to be a safe city, with an increase in quality jobs, increasing housing inventory for all incomes, providing equal resources for all citizens, and continuing to make strategic investments in which to promote quality of life. It’s time to work together for the betterment of all of our citizens. To learn more, I invite you to visit mathenyforcouncil.com.

District 5

Why do you want to be part of the Greensboro City Council?

Tammi Z. Thurm (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)
Tony Wilkins (PHOTO BY CANDIDATE)

TAMMI Z. THURM: Greensboro is at a critical point right now. We have great momentum with a number of job announcements, the Tanger Performing Arts Center completing a historically successful season, and our universities growing and expanding. Greensboro as a community is booming and growing. We must keep the momentum going with smart investments into our community, ensuring that the recent ‘wins’ are wins for all residents of Greensboro, not just some. I understand the balance of investing for the future and making fiscally sound decisions. We must elect a forward-thinking leader that will help us maintain our momentum, not just for today but for the years ahead. I’m ready to continue fighting for what is right for all of us. We’ve made great progress, but we have so much more to do!  

TONY WILKINS:  I have lived in Greensboro my entire life. I’ve raised a family and owned and operated a small business here for over 35 years. Because of my knowledge of the city, business experience, and 5 years previous experience on council, I believe I can contribute to making Greensboro a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing Greensboro in the next four years?

TAMMI Z. THURM: I am proud of my work on Greensboro’s first permanent supportive housing project with wrap-around services. A top priority is ensuring all residents have safe and secure housing. We must establish creative solutions to increase density, partner with developers to identify city policies that add unnecessary expenses to the development process and create a land banking program to push back against gentrification. Additionally, I would like to continue to build a business-friendly city and foster economic development that makes Greensboro better for all of us.

TONY WILKINS:  Get crime under control and maintain a strong police department. Chief [Brian] James was a tremendous asset to this city, and we need to provide the new chief with the tools and funds to help improve and maintain public safety. As always, we need to work toward economic development and jobs. We also need to make Greensboro the most business-friendly city in the state. We do not currently have a reputation as being business friendly.

How has your personal experience/journey positioned you – uniquely or otherwise – to help the city through this period?

TAMMI Z. THURM: I have spent my career as the CFO/VP of operations of small and large family-owned businesses. This experience has given me extensive experience balancing fiscal responsibility and investing for future growth, giving me a unique perspective on what it takes to foster strong economic development. I have also served in various leadership roles in community organizations allowing me to create the experience necessary to listen and lead while building a better Greensboro.  

TONY WILKINS: See response to the first question.

What have been decisions made by city leaders that you wish would get another review?

TAMMI Z. THURM: During my first term, I advocated for written consent. Ultimately, this motion did not pass through City Council. Public safety must have a multipronged approach, and written consent is one step in making Greensboro a safe city for all of us. 

TONY WILKINS:  On an 8-1 vote in 2019 City Council increased property tax. Also, current council is unlikely to adjust property tax rate to be revenue-neutral after this significant property evaluation. Council should deny funding to the wasteful Participatory Budgeting program.

What is your wish list for the city?

TAMMI Z. THURM:

  • Safe quality housing for all residents.
  • Strong economic growth that provides quality jobs.
  • Eliminate homelessness. 
  • Residents feel safe and secure throughout the city.
  • Expand access to public transportation.

TONY WILKINS: See response to the second question.