Carolyn Highsmith

by Yes Weekly Election Coverage

Residential address: 3335 Anderson Drive, 27127

Incumbent or challenger? Challenger

Age: 60

Campaign website or blog: None

Occupation and employer: Retired nurse

Previous elective experience(including election campaigns): Write-in campaign for South Ward seat onWinston-Salem City Council in 2009

Endorsement: YES! Weekly

Civic and volunteerexperience (including service on local government commissions and boards): President, Konnoak HillsCommunity Association; member, South Winston-Salem Community Association; chairperson,#330 Konnoak Hills Neighborhood Watch Group; Winston-Salem Citizens PoliceAcademy;’ CitizensAdvisory Committee on the South Suburban Plan

Education (highest degreeattained and name of institution): Masters in history, UNCG; masters in nursing, UNC-ChapelHill

Party registration: Democrat

Where were you born? Winston-Salem

Paid consultants working oncampaign: None(as of July 22)

Campaign manager: Jonathan Dulaney

Treasurer: Self

Articles about thiscandidate:

• Insurgent grassroots candidate challenges council insider in South Ward primary (link)’ 

• Winston-Salem City Council candidates in tight primaries come out swinging (link)

The majorityof Winston-Salem City Council declined to intervene in Kalvin Michael Smith’s federal petition for a new trial although citizens haverequested that the city take responsibility for a flawed police investigationthat arguably undermined the judicial process leading to Smith’s conviction inthe brutal beating of Jill Marker. What is your position on this matter?

Basedon the information that I’ve read over the years about this case, I think thatKalvin Michael Smith deserves another trial, and I personally am verydisappointed that the federal court rejected Mr. Smith’s appeal on seeminglyjudicial technicalities. The city’s apparent fear of liability if Mr. Smith isever found innocent is a morally unacceptable reason for ensuring that the institutionalmistakes of the past are continued indefinitely into the future.

Do you supportthe proposed Urban Circulator (streetcar or enhanced bus) that would connectBaptist Hospital and East Winston through downtown? Please explain why or whynot. In studying all of the presentations and fact sheets about the UrbanCirculator, the idea is very appealing and appears to hark back to the days ofstreetcars in 1913 when Winston and Salem became one city and was a booming oneat that. However, we’re living in 2013 and in times of economic hardship andslow growth. Spending $179 million to build this four-mile route with $4.3million annual operating costs is just way too expensive for an unknownreturn-on-investment. Instead, why not use considerably less money and buy a small fleet of energy-efficientshuttle vans and/or small buses for this four-mile route to help with thetransportation issues. Then, say in 5 to 10 years if the demand for service isso great and business is booming again along this four-mile route, take anotherlook at the Urban Circulator idea. And, let’s use these funds instead as grants to our own local entrepreneurs tohelp them capitalize and sustain new business ventures or help already provensmall businesses owners expand and hire new workers.

City councilhas focused on revitalizing downtown over the past 10 years, most recentlyapproving the first entertainment district in the city. Should the citycontinue to promote intensification of shared commercial and residential uses indowntown or slow growth to protect existing businesses and homeowners? Without question the downtown revitalization has been a success and is creatinga bustling mix of residential and business development. However, there is moreto the city of Winston-Salem than just the downtown; other areas of the cityneed the same capital investment and rehab. So, it’s now time to begin slowingdown the downtown express train as epitomized by approving the firstentertainment district at the expense of the vitality of the arts district andother existing downtown entertainment enterprises.

While downtownis vibrant and beautiful, areas to the immediate north and east are uninviting,underdeveloped and lacking in pedestrian-scale retail amenities. What, ifanything, should be done to extend the vitality of downtown into outlyingareas? The areas to the north and east of downtown should certainly be looked at forincreasing their economic vitality, quality, and beauty but not at the expenseof the surrounding neighborhoods. Let’s look at our existing assets of people(as well as resources) in these surrounding neighborhoods and bring them to thepublic table to help create a vision of re-development that embraces allcitizens and all ideas not just the idea of downtown gentrification spreadinginto these blighted areas.

What roleshould city council play in the Business 40 improvement project, includingrecommendations for traffic alignment through downtown when the project iscompleted? Without question, the Business 40 improvement project has and will have a hugeimpact on downtown and especially traffic alignment. The city council certainlyshould have a considerable role in helping ensure that the best decisionsregarding the impact of new traffic alignment downtown are made. As a participant in the CreativeCorridors public input sessions, it would be my hope that the best ideas ofthis project are brought to fruition in the Business 40 improvement project in anongoing public-private partnership.

What is yourposition on the use of incentives to promote economic development? If yousupport incentives, why? If not, what other tools does city government have forpromoting job growth? I have a real problem with the use of incentives to promote economic development,especially to large outside corporate entities that have absolutely no loyaltyto our city for long-term job and economic growth or to companies offering lowquality jobs and wages plus lackluster employee benefits. However, ifincentives are a necessary evil at present, then the city should continue tocreate redundant protection clauses in their agreements to get theirinvestments back when businesses such as Dell back out and leave. Instead of always looking for outside companies to come into Winston-Salem, let’sbegin investing in our own locallyrun businesses and entrepreneurs to help them expand, produce new productlines, or expand their global impact. Help these businesses by providingmentors and providing capital and training for new research and development.Enhance their work force with even more Forsyth Tech Community Collegepartnerships. Since the city already has a community and business development departmentthat includes a small business liaison, let’s use and develop our citygovernment’s existing resources to develop even more locally grown but viablebusinesses.

What is yourproudest achievement? I would like to think that I haven’t achieved my proudest achievement yet.

What’s yourfavorite way to unwind in Winston-Salem? My usual way of unwinding is walking through the beautiful tree-lined streetsof my neighborhood and nearby greenways with one of my dogs. My favorite way to unwind when I have extra time is attending live theater andmusic productions all over Winston-Salem.