Council member refutes accusation

by Ben Holder

Correction(Feb. 14, 2015 3:29 p.m.): The Feb. 12 blog post “Did councilman coordinate with Sen. Wade on redistricting proposal” contained a statement that we have been unable to verify. A source claimed that a text sent by Tony Wilkins on Jan. 25 stated that Wilkins had seen the proposed maps for state Sen. Trudy Wade’s plan to redistrict the Greensboro City Council. Wilkins firmly denies making this statement or having seen the proposed maps prior to their public release on Feb. 4. Our original source is unable to provide us with hard copy evidence of the text. We regret that we published this post prior to obtaining independent verification of the text message.We should not have published that statement without independent verification of the claim made by our source. In the interest of accuracy we have deleted the original post.

UPDATED 4:24 p.m.

District 5 council member Tony Wilkins strongly denied Thursday afternoon that he had seen Sen. Wade’s proposed maps prior to them being publicly released on Feb. 4.
Wilkins said he sent a few texts on Jan. 25 regarding Wade’s proposal.
“There is nothing in that thread that said I saw the maps,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins said he sent two texts that day regarding the proposal to redraw Greensboro city council districts. The first was to Theresa Yon, a former candidate for state house who lives in the Center Pointe condominium downtown. The building would be part of Wade’s proposed District 7, which includes the downtown district.
The second text was to a political discussion group that Wilkins, a long-time activist for the local Republican Party, is a member of.
Yon has previously told friends that she would never run for office again, Wilkins said, and so he sent her a text encouraging her to reconsider.
“When the new districts come out, you might be interested in running for council, eh?” Wilkins said that he texted to Yon.
The second text to the political discussion group was also a one sentence message.
“I think the change to council would be a good one for taxpayers,” Wilkins wrote.
Wilkins denied sending a text that said he viewed the maps, and said that Wade would not have conferred with him prior to their release.
“She would not put me in a position to do that,” Wilkins said. “She just wouldn’t put me in that position. I had absolutely nothing to do with shaping the maps, nor do I know anyone who would have anything to do with shaping the maps.”
Wilkins said he asked Wade about the release of the maps and was told they would be out “soon.” He conveyed that message to other council members at a joint dinner with the Greensboro Partnership about that same time.
“Members of the media have questioned me before, thinking I knew more than what I did,” Wilkins said. “With me being the only person that supported a portion of the bill for the seven districts, then people might want to make assumptions. But to say that I saw a portion of the maps is just not true.”
Wilkins said another member of council raised the question of the texts with him prior to a city council work session.
“I can’t justify anybody putting lies out to the media,” Wilkins said. “Obviously we have a situation that is very divisive. I wish we, as grown ups, could discuss the merits of the bill using facts, but obviously some people chose another route.”
Update by Jeff Sykes