Conservative Sorensen defies Republican stereotypes

by Keith Barber

Peter Sorensen doesn’t put much stock in the Republican stereotype so often presented in popular culture. After all, Sorenson, who is running for the Republican nomination to represent Winston- Salem’s Northwest Ward, works for a public radio station. “I’m a Republican that works for an NPR affiliate,” Sorensen, an underwriting account manager for WFDD FM, said. “People want to categorize who a person is. I don’t necessarily agree with everything on the station. I try to stay well-informed; I enjoy hearing a discussion of the issues, but I don’t get caught up in ideology.” Sorensen, 40, strongly believes it’s pure folly to try to label everything either liberal or conservative. “It’s about the discussion of ideas,” he said. Fresh ideas are what Sorensen hopes to contribute to the city council should he win the election. Sorensen said Democratic incumbent Wanda Merschel, who is running for her fourth term on the council, has fallen into the same provincial philosophy as the rest of city council. He believes he can do a better job than Merschel of representing all residents of the Northwest Ward. Sorensen, who lives in the Lockhurst neighborhood, said city leaders spend too much of their time working to improve the downtown area while the annexed areas remain neglected.

Sorensen’s neighborhood was annexed into the city two years ago, and he still can’t figure out how his life has improved as a result. “The only difference is the color of the trash cans and the color of the police cars,” Sorenson said. “Then we started get nickel and dimed. They brought us in and they said, ‘You will get these services for free.’ But the fact is, we are paying for it. We’re paying a disproportionate share of taxes.” Sorensen opposes forced annexation, which he views as a “personal liberty issue.” He cited the controversy surrounding the construction of the downtown ballpark as a clear sign the city council lacks true leadership. “First of all, the ballpark should’ve been privately funded from day one, like the city of Greensboro was able to accomplish,” he said. “We should’ve been very wary that private enterprise didn’t want to do it on its own.” He said the council should have researched all possible options before extending Dash owner Billy Prim an additional $15.7 million to build the stadium. “I just want to bring accountability [to the council],” Sorensen said. “I’m for smaller and smarter government. We spend money on things that we shouldn’t — the ballpark is one.” If elected, Sorensen said he hopes to create a “more organic environment” to spur business growth.

“As a city councilman, I can lobby the state on being more flexible on spending Urban Progress Zone money,” Sorensen said. “I’m definitely probusiness growth, but not at the cost of lifestyle or quality of living.” Sorenson said he supports the development of transportation infrastructure to get more cars off the roads. Sorensen, who calls himself a pragmatist, cited the city’s annexation of the Grandview Golf Course as a perfect example of how lack of foresight can lead to environmental destruction. “The property owners couldn’t afford the additional property taxes, so the land was sold and now a development of 211 houses has now been proposed,” he said. “The plan they have in place is hypocritical. My opponent is running for her fourth term. She must have played a role in this. I tell people, if you’re not happy with what she’s doing; if you don’t like what you’re seeing and you vote for her expecting a change, it’s a wasted vote.”