Filing is closed and the field is set. The local print media is lamenting the lack of candidates and already seems to be conceding the at large race to the three incumbents. I admit that the task at hand is a daunting one but I still believe that it is one that can be accomplished by working hard and "smart". Time is short and the message needs to be delivered and passed on. I do find an advantage in that the "at large" race is not subject to a primary. I have had several inquiries and a bit of professional advice on how to approach a campaign as a new candidate. With that in mind, this is where I stand.
There are four main issues I believe need to be addressed by our City Council that are getting in the way of moving past social gridlock and correcting inadequacies.
1. Stop putting off dealing with the Civil Rights museum.
This issue has dragged on and on and the folks running the Museum have continued to stonewall City Council, refusing to present their records while all the while insisting on more funding. I have written two blog articles about the museum; one on the problems and one on a possible solution. Every councilman has had more than enough time to have a concrete position on this matter and the news media has had just as much time to get each one on record. Though City Council is technically "non-partisan" it is more than known who the Democrats are and who the only Republican is. Paraphrasing my position (to reduce my noticed "long windedness") I am on record as saying that not one penny more of taxpayer money should go to the museum while it is under its' current management. I am also on record as suggesting a solution that would require city takeover and elevation in stature more befitting of its' historical significance. Every sitting councilman should be asked precisely what their position is and that position published. Make a decision already!
2. Stop appeasing political bullies.
While social issues have a place and importance in council discussions, this council seems to appease every opportunistic antagonist, refusing to stand up and defend the city. This council even voted to "approve" the placing of a state historical marker by a 7-2 vote that not only paints the name of our city in a negative light but acknowledges a version of an event that is not historically correct. Again, my position is chronicled in a blog article along with the definition of the word "massacre". The application for this historical marker contains vague and one sided details of the event and is obviously written to imply only one side of this incident was in the wrong. It is supported by letters of recommendation from city leaders even though they know the truth. Yet, this council has allowed the name of Greensboro to be associated with an event that had nothing to do with our city and was caused by two extremist radical groups with only one member of either that had ties locally. As a life long resident of Greensboro, I find this insulting. Deference's like this one have become common place for an unbalanced council that is heavily loaded with liberal agendas.
3. Stop allowing these bullies to attack our city employees.
As supervisors and custodians of the largest employer in the city, it is past time that we stop allowing these bullies to attack our employees without evidence or cause. This city government in general and our city manager in particular have thrown employees under the bus because it is easier to appease these bullies than to tell them to take a hike. Our city manager is so scared of being called a "bad name" he would rather dock employees pay and suspend them than stand up to the bully even when overwhelming evidence says he should. I personally have brought one of these incidents to the attention of council members yet no one has taken any steps to correct the injustice done to the employee. It is simply this city government's position to continue to give in to political pressure from a small percentage of our population for fear that they will be chastised publicly. Surely these folks have been in positions as incumbents long enough to have grown a thicker skin and developed an ability to speak firmly. Putting together evidence to sustain city positions in the face of frivolous complaints from these bullies is not hard to do. If our employees are wrong we have a system to correct them. If they are not wrong, they should be strongly defended in public forum and in terms that leave no doubt to the city's position. Our city employees are citizens and residents too and deserve stronger representation and advocacy from "their" City Council.
4. Citizens should be given at least equal standing to developers.
Too often our council has allowed rezoning of neighborhoods that have opposed additional commercial development when the economic impact on the city as a whole and that neighborhood in particular has been negligible. There are several commercially zoned properties throughout our city that are capable of sustaining new businesses and shopping centers without adding yet more congestion in areas that are already developed. If the developer refuses to add his business in our city unless he can get his way and locate it in an area thousands of residents oppose, thank him and send him on his way. We haven't lost anything that we did not have in the first place. He needs Greensboro's business more than our resident's need his new store. Show him other desirable areas in our city that his venture would enhance and add significant economic impact as well as help increase property values in those areas. Stop giving in all the time. One developer that cannot show significant benefit to the entire city should not take precedent over thousands of tax paying citizens. You are elected to represent not preside.
Greensboro citizens have often ask me "why" our City Council and government do certain things? My answer during my 29 year career as a city employee has too often been "we have wondered the same thing". As strange as some decisions seem from the outside looking in they seem almost nonsensical from the inside looking up. Our City Council seems to believe it has the "pulse of the city". I can say without hesitation that I have been in more homes, more businesses, more churches and had more one on one personal interaction with Greensboro residents during my career as a Greensboro Police Officer than all of the other at large candidates combined. I may have more than the entire field of candidates combined. To simply dismiss me due to a lack of political experience would be a mistake. Many times a politician's perception of what the citizens are thinking is very different from what the actual concerns of the citizens truly are.
I have heard the true concerns of Greensboro residents, "in person", for years. My job required me to listen, process the information provided, come up with a plan of action and provide a solution to the problem at hand. I have lived the concerns of employees from all city departments for years. No one else on this council or in this election can claim that kind of interpersonal experience with our citizens and city employees. Change can be enacted very quickly in an election where citizens are given a real choice or alternative to the status quo. Improvement on our council can only be gained by balancing out political philosophies and eliminating the singular frame of mind that currently exists; 8 to 1 is not "balance".
Are you happy with our City Council? Does "8 to 1" accurately reflect and represent ALL citizens of Greensboro? You and your neighbors, friends and associates can make a significant change on November 3rd!