Yvonne Johnson, an at-large candidate for Greensboro City Council, said she considers a sign urging voters write in their choice rather than vote for one of the candidates for mayor to be a tactic to divide the black electorate for the political benefit of incumbent Bill Knight.
Johnson noted the similarity between the "write-in" sign and her own campaign sign. Johnson served as mayor from 2007 to 2009, and is extraordinarily popular on the east side of the city. Robbie Perkins, Knight's challenger, is expected carry east Greensboro precincts by significant margins and benefit from Johnson's coattails.
"The signs are purple; I have the same font," Johnson said. "I just think it's lowdown and it is a racially divisive tactic. The signs are purple. I have the same font. I ain't happy about it. It's interesting how they're disappearing from the polling places now."
Johnson and Perkins have made no secret of their longstanding political alliance, and Johnson said she supports Perkins' bid for mayor "absolutely," notwithstanding what the mysterious "write-in" signs might suggest to voters.
"If I wanted to run for mayor, I would have," Johnson said. "It's not my time. I support Robbie 100 percent. He's always supported me. That is a tactic to divide the black community and get Bill Knight elected. There's no mystery to that."
Johnson said she doesn't think the tactic will be successful.
"I hope somebody spent a million on them, and it all goes down the toilet," she quipped.
Sharon Hightower, a politically active east Greensboro resident, concurred.
"The average voter who votes on a regular basis is stronger than that," she said. "It really strikes to the heart of somebody desperate, a group of people who are desperate and scared. It's not working."