Annexed candidate wants lower taxes

by Jordan Green

Jeramy Reid, a resident of the Laurel Park subdivision near McLeansville, has seen only a few changes since his property was annexed into the city of Greensboro in July.

“My water rate is down,” he said. “I’ve got trash service. I’ve seen a police car once. He was getting on the highway as I was coming home. And the street signs have been changed. I saw the city workers digging up the old signs and putting up exactly identical signs. I’ve got the before-and-after pictures. That’s another example of wasting taxpayer money.”

As a 33-year-old chef at the Heritage Greens retirement community and family man, Reid is a longtime observer of Greensboro politics who is making his first run for elective office.

“Talking to people at work, I ask them: ‘When was the last time that you voted in a primary?’” he said. “Not that often.” He added, “I think a lot of people don’t feel like it makes a difference. They get caught up in their day-to-day lives, their jobs, their kids, and decide that they’ll leave that to someone else.”

Turnout in the 2007 municipal primary was 6.8 percent, and the District 1 race was decided by only 45 votes.

For Reid, who is one of six candidates this year for the District 1 seat, there is one clear and compelling reason for people to participate in the process: taxes.

“I see that the tax rate continues to grow,” he said, “and people are continuing to move outside the city.”

The last time the city raised its tax rate was in 2006 when city council approved a 0.02-cent hike, but Guilford County raised taxes in both 2006 and 2007, pushing the city’s rate up with it.

“I think Greensboro is one of the highest taxed cities as well as one of the emptiest,” Reid said. “Half the people I work with prefer to live outside of Greensboro. People like to work in Greensboro, but not live here.”

As a fiscal conservative, Reid has been the most outspoken among the District 1 candidates about decrying the city’s current practice of trucking household waste down to a landfill in Montgomery County.

District 1 has the largest percentage of African- American residents, and many view the landfill in District 2 — the city’s other majority black district — as an unfair burden.

“I’m opposed to the current situation,” Reid said. “I think we should look seriously at construction of a new landfill, one that would be economically viable and environmentally sound. We could develop a private-public partnership to bring trash there, and to have some recycling.”

As a newly annexed suburbanite, Reid has had to take his message to an electorate that is largely based in the more established and urbanized section of the district.

“A lot of District 1, from people I talk to, they think of themselves as the forgotten district,” Reid said.

The campaign has engaged Reid in concerns much closer to the city core and initiatives pushed by other candidates. Reid said he admires, but disagrees with fellow candidate Ben Holder on removing a set of public-art benches in the Warnersville community where residents have complained that acts of prostitution are taking place.

“I think the district needs more people like Ben,” Reid said. “I don’t know if the best use of his talents is sitting on council.”

“You take away the benches, you’re not going to take away the prostitution,” he added. “You’re not going to deal with the crime. You’re just going to push it around the corner.”