Change brews in High Point ward elections

by Jordan Green

At a time when political veterans and newcomers vie for control of the mayoral and two at-large seats, three out of six wards are guaranteed to have new representatives, and all but one of the ward seats are contested in this year’s High Point City Council election. While the presidential election sucks up most voters’ political attention in this cycle, the Triad’s third largest city is electing a new council that will make difficult decisions about setting the tax rate, continuing to add jobs and attempting to reverse the city’s economic decline. Who gets elected to represent the nine seats on council could make a crucial difference in deciding those questions. Five candidates are competing in Ward 1 to replace Bernita Sims, who is running for mayor. In Ward 5, three candidates are jockeying to succeed Chris Whitley, another mayoral aspirant. Two candidates are on the ballot in Ward 4, where AB Henley has declined to seek reelection after serving one term. Veteran Councilman Michael Pugh faces challenge from former mayor Judy Mendenhall in Ward 3. And one-term Councilman Jim Corey and candidate Jason Ewing are going into a rematch in Ward 6. Only in Ward 2, represented by Foster Douglas, is there an unchallenged incumbent. Particularly in wards 4, 5 and 6, which are majority white, some candidates have made a point of noting that High Point has the highest tax rate in the state among cities with populations of 100,000 or more, and the city has lost economic ground compared to neighboring Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Ward 1 Voters in Ward 1 will likely find two names on the ballot more familiar than others: Mary Lou Andrews Blakeney and Jeff Golden. Blakeney, a retired registered nurse who helped launch High Point’s sit-in movement as a high school student in 1960, was elected to an at-large seat on council in 2008, but failed to garner enough votes to be re-elected in 2010. Golden, who is also a nurse, tried unsuccessfully to unseat Sims in Ward 1 in 2010. Blakeney said in an interview that she and Sims grew up in the same neighborhood and their families knew each other, but that the two have different concerns. Blakeney said she has a strong interest in healthcare, based on her profession, and education, while Sims might be more attuned to business interests. Blakeney’s mother is 87 years old, which heightens her sensitivity about the needs of seniors. “I can tell you there are quite a few seniors in Ward 1,” Blakeney said. “Like everybody else, some of them have the issue of whether to buy a meal or take a pill. The economy has hurt everybody. It’s a sad state of affairs. They are pinching pennies everywhere to try to make ends meet. I wish there were something we could do. “Safe neighborhoods are also a concern,” the candidate continued. “Some of them have been in their homes for many, many years, and there is negative things going on in their neighborhoods. They’re afraid to come out and walk to the bus stop. I wish we had more transportation options.” Blakeney said she is pleased that city’s boards and commissions are becoming more diverse to reflect the international population of the city. And she said city departments need to be adequately staffed so citizens will receive thorough and courteous customer service. Golden has received a vote of confidence from Sims, his former opponent, who wrote on the candidate’s Facebook campaign page: “Best of luck in your quest, and I know that you will serve the citizens of this community well.” Even with what amounts to an endorsement from a veteran council member who is the leading candidate for mayor, Golden is campaigning as a change-maker, and arguing that council members need to be more transparent and visible in the community. The candidate predicted change with this election. “You’ll get more change, and I’m talking about positive change because there’s going to be at least four new seats filled,” he said. “We’re going to have a new mayor. We’re going to have a new representative in Ward 1. There’s the seat that AB Henley is vacating. You’ll have fresh faces and fresh ideas on council, and I think it’s going to be good for the city.” Like Sims, Golden is impatient with the owner of an apartment complex at Meredith Court, where code violations have gone unaddressed for years. “The owner doesn’t respond to phone calls,” Golden said. “They keep postponing. We have too many council members with a stake in the real estate industry, so they’re hesitant to do anything to these [property] owners.” Golden is critical of the current council, which raised taxes this year to maintain revenue after an assessment by the county found that overall property value had declined, and to finance a cost-of-living increase for city employees. “We raise our taxes because we’re not generating any new business,” the candidate said. “It’s a tough situation to be in, but I don’t think passing the cost along to taxpayers is the answer. It’s hard to get people to bring business to town when taxes are so high. I compare [staff] salaries with Greensboro and High Point. When you look at the salaries, I think we have a lot of people who are overpaid, in my personal opinion. We have some duplicate positions that we might be able to cut.” Willie Davis, another candidate, said he wants to see more sidewalks added in Ward 1 to keep children walking home from school safe from cars speeding through neighborhoods. He also said the city needs to be more aggressive about going after jobs. He suggested he would overrule residents in the toney Emerywood neighborhood, located in nearby Ward 4, who are opposed to commercial development if it meant providing additional employment opportunities. “We got a Sheetz coming in to the Emerywood area,” Davis said. “They don’t want it. But you got to think it would be good to put people to work.” The candidate gave public services in the city mixed reviews. “I think as far as garbage pickup, the department does a great job,” he said. “I really applaud the city as far as public safety. I don’t really have a problem with our police department – I’m not going to bash them – but I think our police officers need to be out in communities more. It reduces the crime rate. It would close the trust gap. One of the biggest problems I have with the police department is response time.” A fourth candidate, Larry Diggs, started his career as a dispatcher with the High Point Electrical Department in 1976. Later in life he was diagnosed as legally blind, and volunteered at High Point Regional Hospital and Hospice of High Point. Diggs served on the board of Project 2015, a regional study geared towards creating better cooperation in mass transit. Like Golden, Diggs wants the city to take a tougher line on forcing owners of substandard housing to fix up their properties. In his campaign, Diggs emphasizes a need for downtown revitalization while stipulating that he wouldn’t look to the city’s general fund for money to pay for improvements, but rather would try to recruit private investment or look for federal and state funds. Diggs said High Point needs more public transit linkages between inner city areas where many Ward 1 residents live and the booming northern tier so that they can take advantage of employment opportunities at the Palladium and other retail areas. He said he supports the city’s current efforts to add jobs, which more often than not involve offering incentives to companies that locate and expand in the city’s more prosperous north end. “We have lost a lot of furniture jobs and hosiery in the last 30 years,” Diggs said. “The chance of getting them back is pretty slim.” Diggs said if elected to council part of his goal will be to get Ward 1 residents more involved in city government. “One thing I would say, I am informing the ward more of what’s going on and really trying to motivate them to get involved in the process and make them understand that when you come to city council meetings that your voice can make a difference,” Diggs said. “There’s a lot of people in High Point in general that feel that [the city government is] going to do what they want anyway, and you can’t challenge city hall.” Not only can you fight city hall, but you can win, Diggs said. About four years ago, the candidate recounted, city officials had pledged to use federal funds to build a new city bus terminal. Later, someone told him the project had been put on the backburner. Diggs went to city council and asked what happened to the federal funds for the project. He said a staff member responded that the initiative needed further study. Then, six months later he read in the newspaper that the city was moving forward with the project. Orrick Quick, a 29-year-old health and fitness trainer, emphasizes religious faith in his aspiration to public service. “I want people to know that I am a servant of Jesus Christ,” he said. “I seek the foundation of Jesus Christ. That’s who is going to help our city flourish, especially in our downtown area. Nothing will stand without truth. I truly believe that you’ve got to have the right people in city council so that no one has these evil motives.” As to whether his proseletyzing might trample on the religious liberties of non-Christian constituents, Quick responded, “The simplest way I can put it is I loved them. The same thing as Jesus did; He did not condemn them. He basically walked, and through his walk people wanted what he had. They were willing to drop what they had and pick up what he had…. You don’t have to put people down…. Time will tell. People will say, ‘Look, what this man is doing is working. What I’m doing ain’t working.’ People want prosperous lives. People want things to go well.” Like most of the candidate in Ward 1, Quick said the city needs to improve its public transit system. Quick said he would focus on expanding service hours after 6 p.m. so that people can get to jobs, go out to eat and take advantage of entertainment options like the movies. Another area where Quick’s agenda overlaps with some of his opponents is stated desire to make city government more transparent. “The biggest thing that I want to do as a councilman is to make people aware of how city government works,” he said. “I want to put out materials. I want to let the people of High Point know what is going on. Are we voting for a higher property tax or a lower utility fee? They just hear it on the news, and it’s already happened. If you can keep people in the loop about what’s going on, that’s a great service in itself.” Quick said he plans to create a two-year program to help homeless people, including ex-felons, “transform their lives “mentally, physically and spiritually.” He also expressed a desire to advocate for young people and the elderly. “I guess the best I can tell you is that I want people to know what kind of person that they have serving them on city council,” Quick said. “All those things I was sharing with you, those things are going to get done whether or not I get elected to city council. I mainly want people to understand me. I want people to understand my heart.”     Ward 3 The two candidates would agree that Ward 3, which covers the southern portion of the city, has suffered from neglect. Beyond that, incumbent Michael Pugh and challenger Judy Mendenhall represent markedly different styles of leadership. “Traditionally, in High Point you’ve always had a divide north to south,” Pugh said. “Everything north of the railroad tracks got attention. Most of the areas on the south side got the short end. Folks in the lower socioeconomic grouping would be south of the tracks. There are areas south of the tracks that I dare say our mayor, members of city council and a lot of citizens of High Point have never been to.” A fiscal conservative, Pugh has forged a sometimes lonely path by opposing tax increases while a comfortable majority of his colleagues marched in the opposite direction. A former mayor, Mendenhall touts her ability to lead by building a consensus. A longtime executive director of the non-profit social service agency West End Ministries, the 74-year-old Mendenhall has reduced her hours and is eager to return to municipal politics. “I have been asked in the past on several different occasions to run again,” Mendenhall said. “I was always tied up with something that I didn’t feel like I had the time. I have a lesser role at West End Ministries. I have the time. I have a real empathy for people. I think the council needs some leadership, and the people in Ward 3 need some representation.” Mendenhall makes the case that it takes a team player adept at the give and take of politics to effectively represent the ward. “In the 13 years that I previously served I always found that in order to get anything accomplished you have to be able to negotiate with other members of the council,” she said. “The position that he has taken, as I understand it, is to just vote no. You can’t get much accomplished when you’re by yourself.” Pugh countered that his principled opposition to tax increases is beginning to bear fruit. “If your agenda is to move the council in a totally different direction you don’t give in,” he said. “I haven’t given in in seven years. Now, the council is beginning to swing in my direction. The candidates are determining that we cannot continue on this path of more spending, raising of utility rates, raising of property taxes, giving raises to city city employees. We can’t continue to do that. We’re one of the highest taxed municipalities in the state of North Carolina.” Pugh also said that even while being at odds with many of his colleagues he has still managed on occasion to influence policy. He typically opposes economic incentives requests by private companies. The city pays incentives from revenues raised by the city’s electrical utility. When social service agencies said their funds to assist residents with utility bills were depleted, Pugh said he persuaded his colleagues to set aside $100,000 for that purpose while approving an incentives grant to Stanley Furniture. Mendenhall said she knows the ward well, and has a good grasp of its needs. “I have met several of the pastors in the area and the agencies that serve the folks,” she said. “There are zoning issues. There are substandard housing issues. Job issues. Employment issues. Education retraining issues. Many of which the council can address if the representative of the ward pushes for them.” While Mendenhall is grounded in her professional experience running a social service agency in the ward, Pugh has focused on economic revitalization as cofounder of the non-profit Southwest Renewal Foundation, which is about a year old. “Our goal is to focus on the southwest area of High Point, which has been the hardest hit and where most of the jobs have been lost,” he said. “It’s where our manufacturing base was. It’s where the economic engine of High Point was. Those are areas that are sitting with infrastructure that is in place and buildings that are ready to use. It’s our goal to go in there and change it aesthetically to make it more attractive with greenways, biking trails and beautification of streams that would make it more attractive to industry.” Pugh said the city needs to hold the line on spending, and tends to focus in his remarks on ensuring that south High Point receives adequate police attention and city staff are properly trained in code enforcement so that the area will become more viable for private investment. On at least one matter, Pugh makes common cause with more liberal members of council such as Bernita Sims, a strong contender for mayor: Both take an aggressive stance against property owners who fail to adequately maintain rental properties. “What disturbs me is that we have boarded-up houses in this city that have been boarded up for 10-plus years,” Pugh said. “That is totally unacceptable. There needs to be some movement at the state level dealing with boarded-up houses. You should be able to decide if you’re going to make repairs in a year. The city should have more leeway in demolishing that property and ridding that area of blight. I think a year is an acceptable amount of time.” Ward 4 Jay Wagner, a 44-year-old lawyer who chairs the Uptowne High Point Association, describes his bid to represent Ward 4 as “almost an extension of the race I ran for mayor two years ago. “The economic statistics have gotten worse since then,” said Wagner of his loss to Becky Smothers, who won reelection while espousing a sunnier assessment of the city’s fortunes. “The economic statistics have gotten worse since then. They seem to be symptomatic of a lack of leadership on council.” The statistics Wagner cites include several months of double-digit unemployment, a sales-tax base below those of smaller cities such as Burlington and Hickory, and declining values of downtown properties, while council has raised property taxes, electric rates, and water and sewer rates, and raised pay for city employees. Matthew Brett Moore (not to be confused with Britt Moore, who is currently serving and seeking re-election as an at-large member of council), also a lawyer, ran unsuccessfully for council in 2005. “When you write new ordinances there’s a benefit to knowing how the law works,” the 29-year-old candidate said. “When you’re dealing with sensitive issues that council members grow impatient about, such as rezoning or annexation, or condemning someone’s home or knocking down their home, those are things that a lawyer brings a special view to… not to mention making decisions that you can look at and say, ‘Even if we get challenged in court, we’re going to be okay.’” Ward 4 covers some of the most affluent parts of High Point, including Emerywood. As a central-west ward in the city’s middle tier, it shares some interests with wards 1 and 2, which are also centrally located. Wagner is close with the ward’s current representative. He said he persuaded AB Henley to run for the Ward 4 seat when Bill Bencini resigned to run for county commission two years ago. When Henley decided not to seek a second term he told his friend, and Wagner decided to run for the seat. Wagner serves as vice chair of City Project, an effort to revitalize the city center. He faults the current council for failing to support the project adequately enough to make far-reaching improvements to downtown. And Wagner heaped scorn on the sentiment of one current member and mayoral aspirant, Chris Whitley, who has said he would like to de-fund the project. “The idea of not funding City Project is just ridiculous,” Wagner said. “City Project is a group that was created by the city council and tasked with implementing the plan created by city council…. We are essentially a public-private partnership like the economic development corporation. Are they going to de-fund the economic development corporation, too?” Wagner argued that City Project’s achievements are substantial. “We got the city to enact a new zoning designation for Main Street and Washington Street,” he said. “We got Washington Street designated as a historic district….. We created the Uptowne High Point Association. We’ve attracted over 25 businesses. The Uptowne has become the city’s most vibrant district. We have the Beach Music Blast, Party on the Plank and the Uptowne Market.” He added that City Project plans to commission Andres Duany, a renowned new urbanist architect, to create a master plan. He said High Point University has committed to funding 25 percent of the study. Proponents are trying to raise the remainder from private sources, but might turn to the city for assistance. Moore takes a different position on City Project. “I don’t think it should continue to receive city funding,” he said. “Actually, we’ve dumped a ton of money into these things. They haven’t worked. It could be just the economy, but I think private money needs to be what does this.” Both candidates espouse a fairly conservative view on taxation and spending, with different points of emphasis. “We need to look at our budget and do a top-to-bottom review,” Wagner said. “It seems to me that we are pretty top heavy in terms of the number of employees per capita. We might look at privatizing some things as a city.” Moore said, “I think we could reduce mowing and paving. We don’t have to do it quite so often. There’s at least two roads here that I’ve seen paved that probably don’t need it quite yet. Eastchester Drive, they’ve paved it before the pavement was really worn out. I know the argument is that once winter comes, it will be more expensive to repair.” Likewise, the two candidates offer different visions for economic revitalization, with Wagner leaning towards public investment to attract private capital and Moore emphasizing voluntarism. “We’re in a Catch-22,” Wagner said. “We don’t have quality of life things that people with high-paying jobs expect. Since we don’t have enough people with high-paying jobs, we can’t afford to pay for those quality of life things. Sometimes it makes sense to prime the pump.” Moore said, “Something I’d like to do is start a program that would help small businesses by putting on seminars and providing small businesses with mentors – things that would help people from A to Z in starting a business and running a business. I would step up to do a seminar absolutely free on the legal issues, things like how to incorporate, which is the only thing I could do.” Both candidates said they would avoid conflicts of interest. Wagner said he would resign from City Project, if elected to council. Moore said he expects to serve on the board of Win-Win Resolutions, but would recuse himself if a request for funding came up. He added that in the current budget environment he doesn’t envision the council authorizing funding for any nonprofits. Moore indicated in an interview that he sees both sides of many issues, and indicated he was reluctant to criticize the current council without knowing firsthand what it’s like to be there. Not so with Wagner. “One thing I would like to see is the creation of a design center downtown,” he said. “We have so many great design professionals. I would love to see us capitalize on that. There has been behind the scenes some discussion of trying to attract an art school. We need to dream big and try to achieve that plan. We’ve got folks who are there to protect the status quo. Maybe they’re more of a problem than a solution.” Ward 5 Chris Whitley, the ward’s current representative, is running for mayor, opening the field to three hopefuls who want to take his place in Ward 5, which covers the northwest corner of the city and hugs Skeet Club Road. Rodney Joslin II, a quality analyst with TE Connectivity, unsuccessfully challenged Whitley two years ago. “I’m opposed to a tax rate which is higher than the cities around us,” Joslin said. “We should not have a higher tax rate than Winston-Salem and Greensboro.” That sentiment is among a set of talking points Joslin has printed on door hangers that he has been distributing in neighborhoods throughout the ward. Joslin complained in an interview that his platform has been stolen by another candidate, Jim Davis, whose campaign literature also promotes more efficient city government. Whitley, the ward’s current representative, posted on Davis’ campaign Facebook page: “Jim’s got my vote. What about you?” “This particular person has been a supporter of Chris Whitley’s for years,” Joslin said of Davis. “Chris Whitley put him on several different committees. Chris Whitley is the reason we have a lot of problems we do because Chris Whitley has consistently voted to support tax increases.” Davis, a residential builder, acknowledged that Whitley appointed him to serve on the planning and zoning commission. While touting his experience — he’s also served on the parks and recreation commission and board of adjustment — Davis is also running as an outsider. “I’ve seen my property taxes and utility rates continue to rise,” he said. “This year when I got my property tax bill I thought it was time to change. I think the current members take the easy way out by raising taxes instead of going through the budget line by line to look for efficiencies. “Our number of city employees versus population is very high,” he added. “We need to get back to where we need to be for a city of our size.” Davis said he has not discussed the tax rate with Whitley. “I know Chris to be a very conservative person,” he said. “I don’t know all the reasons this year why it’s necessary to raise property taxes. I know Britt Moore and he voted to raise property taxes.” Joslin indicated he would keep a close eye on spending as a member of council. Sidewalks, for example, might have to wait. “I love sidewalks; I think sidewalks are important,” he said. “Do I think they’re important in this economy the way it is? No, I don’t. What we need to be doing is attracting businesses so we can increase the number of taxpaying properties so we can pay for the sidewalks. But you can’t put sidewalks first.” As a member of the planning and zoning commission, Davis is familiar with the city’s plans to update and streamline its planning ordinances. “They want to make it user friendly and less restrictive because High Point has a reputation for being hard to work with,” he said. “Whoever’s elected needs to have a good understanding of zoning ordinances and the planning and development process. As a builder I see firsthand how long it takes to get permits. The last one I took out in High Point took two weeks, whereas in Winston-Salem it might take a day.” Gerald Grubb, a small-business owner, made an unsuccessful bid for Ward 6 two years ago, but was bounced into Ward 5 as a result of the recent round of redistricting.    Grubb shares the conservative stance taken by Joslin and Davis. He said he favors repealing business-license fees on small business. He said he hopes to be part of a new council with a majority that joins Ward 3 Councilman Michael Pugh in opposing tax increases. Having started several businesses over the years and currently employing nine people in two businesses, Grubb said he would bring valuable experience to council. “What I’ve been doing for the past 10 to 12 years is starting businesses,” he said. “I know what it takes to start a small business, and I know how hard it is to create jobs. I think we need people on council who know how to do it.” Grubb said he didn’t oppose the 1.5 percent pay increase that council gave staff this year, but that they should have done it without raising taxes by focusing on employees at the bottom of the city’s pay scale. If elected, Grubb said he hopes to join Councilman Michael Pugh, who is fending off a challenge from former mayor Judy Mendenhall, in a new majority. “You’ve got to have a majority of city council that’s willing to go in the same direction,” Grubb said. “Hopefully this election will give us a conservative city council. Mike Pugh, day in and day out, is the only conservative on the council. There are others who are some days conservative and some days are not. We need a consensus there of people who have the moral courage to say no to taxes.” Grubb said he would also promote transparency if elected to council. “Greensboro televises their council meetings,” he said. “High Point should do the same. I know the technology is available to do it. We shouldn’t be doing anything behind closed doors. The citizens should know who proposed it, who favors it and who voted for it.” The candidate also wants to abolish reserved parking for council members at city hall so that seniors or mothers with children aren’t forced to walk long distances to attend council meetings. Ward 6 The contest for the city’s Ward 6 seat straddling the Eastchester Drive and Wendover Avenue corridors features a rematch between Jim Corey and Jason Ewing. Corey, a retired political science professor, and Ewing, a thirtysomething realtor, competed to succeed outgoing council member John Faircloth — now a state legislator — in 2010. Corey prevailed by a mere 46 votes. While reciting Corey’s record of voting for tax increases, Ewing stopped short of criticizing his opponent, saying he wants to keep the focus on what he would bring to council. “It absolutely should not be increased again,” Ewing said. “If we can get to a position where we re-evaluate some expenses and look at some new revenue opportunities, it would be great to reduce that tax rate. We’re 20 cents more than Winston-Salem, and there’s a lot more to do in Winston-Salem as far as restaurants and other attractions. “Property owners in High Point want to know: What return are they getting for that tax rate?” the candidate continued. “When I talk to residents, there’s not a single one who can tell me.” Corey responded, “We have an excellent police department. We have an excellent fire department. Excellent EMS. We have excellent water and sewer. We have a wonderful library. Our electrical system is reliable and relatively affordable.” Counter to the expectation that incumbents typically avoid criticism of their opponent, while challengers play up differences, Corey didn’t waste any opportunity to go on the attack against Ewing. In an interview, he noted that he has lived in High Point for more than twice as long as Ewing, who moved here in 2007. “Out in Ohio he went to junior college and he went to a four-year college, but he didn’t graduate from either one,” Corey said. “He’s basically a high school graduate. For citizens in Ward 6 who are higher socioeconomic status, being represented by a high school graduate is not going to be too pleasing to them. I think they would like to be represented by someone with higher education.” Corey said his vote to give city employees a pay raise reflects his ability to fashion compromises. Some members wanted to give a 2-percent raise, including one who said he would not vote for less than that. Three members were opposed to any raise whatsoever. Corey said he told his colleagues he would only support a 1.5 percent raise, and with his vote the measure passed on a 5-4 vote. “For three years we gave them zero,” Corey said. “The city manager was the one who felt we should give them something. I call it a ‘token salary increase,’ if you will. Even if it doesn’t keep up with inflation, even a token increase is better than zero.” Both candidates recognize that the city is in a bind: The city lacks surplus revenue to pay for upgrades that could help recruit new businesses and residents, but without them it will be hard to broaden the tax base and relieve the tax burden on those who are already here. “We’ve got to be better stewards of our taxpayer dollars,” Ewing said. “If we’re not going to be more competitive, we’ve got to make it a lot more attractive.” To revitalize the city, Ewing said he wants the council to consider breaking up the furniture market to create room for retail and restaurants downtown and also utilize some of the old manufacturing buildings in the economically beleaguered south end as showrooms. Ewing noted that a typical complaint heard by international market customers is that there aren’t enough dining options in High Point, and they have to go to Winston-Salem or Greensboro. As he did during his campaign two years ago, Corey is promoting the idea of creating a business incubator to provide economic renewal in High Point, similar to the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship in Greensboro. He acknowledged that the idea hasn’t gone very far since he was elected in 2010. “The first term on council you have to sort of take a low-key approach,” he said. “You don’t want to stand out too much. The first term is a learning experience. It’s much better to keep your mouth shut, and see what’s going on. I certainly will push the business incubator in the second term.” Both candidates support investments in sidewalks, as both a public-safety and economic-development strategy. “We need to look at more major arteries,” Corey said. “They claim they’re more interested in building sidewalks where they have bus routes. I can’t tell you how many people I see walking on Eastchester or Westchester in the gutter, so to speak. I am so worried that on a dark night someone is going to be talking on their telephone or texting while driving. My worry is that some pedestrian is going to get hit by some inattentive driver. The question is going to come up: Who is responsible for the pedestrian getting hit? Certainly the driver. But is the city responsible, too?” Ewing said, “Any new development has to have sidewalks on one side of the street. If you’re targeting growth in the core city, having ways people can travel [on foot] from business to business is certainly important. If the dollars we put into economic incentives was focused on infrastructure improvement, we could make our city more attractive to businesses and residents.” Both candidates also agreed that Ward 6’s geographic location makes it a challenge to gain buy-in from residents on efforts to revitalize High Point’s city center. In some sense, the ward is more economically tied to Greensboro than the rest of High Point. “Whatever is being done downtown to revitalize restaurants, it’s got to be attractive to people on the north side,” Ewing said. “Most people on the north side haven’t lived in High Point very long, so they’ve only know that High Point is boring. They’re so used to going to Greensboro and Winston-Salem.” Corey said, “To be honest, the residents of north High Point probably have some attraction to Greensboro because they’re not that far away. The Palladium is sort of up in that area. The residents do support things downtown, but it’s not an overwhelming majority of people that make the trip downtown. There are people in Ward 6 that do partake in the events downtown, but there’s also a lot to interest people in north High Point.”