Interactive Resource Center candidate forum, a set on Flickr.
Candidates for Greensboro City Council have been making the rounds to meet groups that make endorsements and lining up financial backing.
Now, the campaign is in full swing. District 4 candidate Nancy Hoffmann met voters at M'Coul's pub tonight. Candidates courting the east Greensboro vote such as mayoral hopeful Robbie Perkins are expected to appear at Presbyterian Church of the Cross on Phillips Avenue on Friday evening. On the same night, at-large candidate Wayne Abraham will be holding a fundraiser at Mack and Mack on South Elm Street, while fellow at-large candidate Yvonne Johnson will be holding a reception at House of Jazz on North Edgeworth Street.
District 2 candidate Jim Kee holds his campaign kickoff at the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship on Saturday, while other candidates will be showing up at neighborhood festivals.
In one of the first public campaign events, the Interactive Resource Center held a lunchtime candidate forum on Tuesday. Candidates or their representatives sat at designated tables and shared lunch with homeless clients at the homeless day center. Afterwards, they stood up and make brief statements, and then answered questions.
The only incumbent who showed up was Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Vaughan, but she left without making remarks after she learned she was being served a lawsuit by a company that has been preselected to operate the White Street Landfill to try to prevent her from voting on the matter.
Candidates that participated in the candidate forum included at-large contenders Yvonne Johnson, Marikay Abuzuaiter, Cyndy Hayworth, Wayne Abraham and Jean Brown; District 4 candidate Nancy Hoffmann; and District 5 candidate Jorge Cornell.
Cornell embraced Abraham as candidates and clients were lining up to be served a meal.
"We need you," Cornell told Abraham, who served on the complaint review committee of the Greensboro Human Relations Commission when Cornell and other members of the Latin Kings filed complaints against the Greensboro Police Department.
Marikay Abuzuaiter: "You do not need to own a home for me to listen to you. If you are at the homeless shelter, I will listen to you. Yes, we need more homeless shelters. We need more jobs."
Wayne Abraham: "We need to create a buy-local campaign. We need to adopt a sustainability plan and restore funding for critical infrastructure."
Yvonne Johnson: "If you think the biggest need in the city of Greensboro is jobs, then I am your candidate."
Jean Brown: "I want to balance the budget. I want to stop excessive spending. Some of the laws are not necessary. I want to change some of these laws that are taking away our rights, like saying you can't park in your front yard. I've got a paved driveway, but not everybody is so fortunate."
Cyndy Hayworth said she has no hidden agendas; reported that she has recently been elected chair of the zoning commission and much of council's business involves land-use decisions; expressed the view that the city should be run like a business; and concluded, "at the end of the day, it's about you."
Nancy Hoffmann: “I’m running because I love the city. I’ve lived here by choice for 14 years. I want it to continue to be a very good city with a good quality of life for all of our citizens, and I feel that I have some background and experience that I could bring that could be helpful to create a new city council that could work together effectively.”
Jorge Cornell: "It's important that we take the money from these nice neighborhoods, nice districts, and take it back for the neighborhoods that need it....
"They call me the quote-unquote gang leader. I'm not a gang leader. I'm just a brother that's striving to improve my community."
Cornell told the audience that he is setting up a temporary labor agency, Community United Staffing, to put ex-felons to work. One client challenged him on whether the agency will be able to provide sustained employment.
"There's no guarantees," Cornell responded.
Candidates learned that Greensboro does not have an adequate number of beds to accommodate all the people who are homeless on any given night.
"My concern is the lack of beds for both men and women in Greensboro, but especially for women at different shelters," said James Reaves, a volunteer. "Every day, we send people from Greensboro to High Point, to Winston, as far away as Charlotte because we can't find a place for them. We are often asked, 'Why are you sending homeless to us? Why aren't you taking care of them yourself?"
A number of candidates responded.
"I did not know the discrepancy was so great in beds," Johnson said. "We have a lot of abandoned houses.... And if we were to give a tax break to those who own the houses, maybe we can use those for emergency shelter. I don't have all the answers. But I'm willing to sit down and try to find a solution."
Abraham concurred: "I agree we are going to have to work with the nonprofits in this city and pull them together.... I will certainly be willing to work on that kind of issue with you."
Hoffmann said, "It's not like we can do anything tomorrow, but you're looking at the candidate you can vote for in October and November that came to listen to you."