Time was when the endorsements of the George C. Simkins Jr. Memorial Political Action Committee was awaited with anticipation, anxiety and speculation depending on one’s political viewpoint in Greensboro. Named after civil rights pioneer Dr. George C. Simkins Jr., who led successful efforts to desegregate the city’s golf courses and hospitals and the campaign to establish a district representation system, the committee’s recommendations are mailed out to black voters across the city.
I’m not sure now. There is a wide array of civic and media actors with both complex and overlapping ties to various constituencies that are closely vetting the candidates.
This year’s endorsement slate is, not surprisingly, shaped by the White Street Landfill controversy:
Robbie Perkins for mayor: “Robbie has supported our issues across the years, voted and worked to close the White Street Landfill.”
Yvonne Johnson for at large: “Our former mayor who has advanced our issues should be returned to the council.”
Nancy Vaughan for at large: “Voted to close the White Street Landfill and is committed to keeping it closed.”
Marikay Abuzuaiter for at large: “Longtime community activist, against opening White Street Landfill.”
Dianne Bellamy-Small for District 1: “Our senior representative on council who stood against the landfill and continues to represent his district well.”
Jim Kee for District 2: “Has stood against the landfill and continues to represent his district well.”
Zack Matheny for District 3: “We believe we can count on his support in the future.”
Nancy Hoffmann for District 4: “A fresh voice who also opposes opening the landfill.”
The committee did not endorse in the District 5 race between incumbent Trudy Wade and challenger Jorge Cornell.
The endorsement of Bellamy-Small is quite a switch. Two years ago, the PAC endorsed her challenger, Luther T. Falls Jr., reasoning, “He is the change that District 1 needs. He will fight for the people of this district to increase police presence, to stop crime, focus on economic improvements and respond to the wishes of the district.”
Another switch is the withdrawal of support for Wade, whom the PAC endorsed in 2009 without explanation. Wade has voted to reopen the landfill in a series of decisions this past year.
The Simkins PAC’s 2009 endorsement mailer made no mention of the landfill as an issue.
Committee Chairman Steve Bowden acknowledged the omission as a strategic misstep after the election, in which Johnson lost her mayoral reelection bid to conservative upstart Bill Knight.
“The main issue for our community is there’s going to be an effort to open a dump back up in our section of town,” Bowden said at the time. “These new people [who were annexed], I’m sure they wouldn’t want to have dump where the Cardinal golf course is. That’s what the people of east Greensboro are facing. There’s going to be a big push to cut taxes. And [reopening] the landfill is an easy way to make up the revenue if you want to cut taxes.
“The most pressing issue that I see in our community was not put on the forefront,” he continued. “I regret that. I was in a meeting of the Greensboro Men’s Club last night. I made the point to them that I regret that we did not make a concerted effort to let the community know what was at stake.”
This year, Matheny is the only candidate whose endorsement is qualified on an expression of faith rather than a proven record or a stated position. Matheny is considered a swing vote on council, and perhaps it’s not surprising that Wade is courting him, too. A glossy mailer received today by District 5 voters names Matheny as part of a group of “city council members that share her positive vision for the future of Greensboro,” also including landfill proponents Knight, Chris Lawyer, Danny Thompson and Mary Rakestraw.
Other recent endorsements
Bill Knight: Rhinoceros Times
Robbie Perkins: Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro
Marikay Abuzuaiter: Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro
Yvonne Johnson: Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro
Chris Lawyer: Rhinoceros Times
Nancy Vaughan: Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro
Dianne Bellamy-Small: Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro
Donnell “DJ” Hardy: Rhinoceros Times
Jim Kee: Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro, Rhinoceros Times
Zack Matheny: Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro, Rhinoceros Times
Mary Rakestraw: Rhinoceros Times
Trudy Wade: Rhinoceros Times