Falls would apply business outlook to D1

by Jordan Green

Falls would apply business outlook to D1

Luther T. Falls Jr. lives in the same southeast Greensboro neighborhood where he grew up.

“My neighborhood, when I was growing up, the neighbors looked out for each other,” Falls said during a recent interview at Caribou Coffee at the Friendly Center shopping complex. “And if that didn’t work, then we called the police. I went to Bluford, Lincoln and Dudley. That’s my village. And they did a very good job with me.”

Falls came within 49 votes of evicting incumbent Dianne Bellamy-Small from the District 1 seat in 2005. He challenged her again in 2007, with less favorable results. This year, he’s making a third attempt, running in a crowded field of five challengers.

An insurance agent, Falls has been motivated by a business sensibility and the concept of African-American economic self-organization. In 1994, he helped found the Watchful Network, an organization that works to strengthen relationships between black professionals and the black community, makes client referrals and provides entrepreneurs with guidance on starting new enterprises. The organization will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a business expo at the Greensboro Coliseum’s Special Events Center in February.

Falls said he would like to put his business experience to use on council in the preparation of the annual budget, educating other members about the important role of small business and attracting investment to District 1. In reference to the oft-voiced complaint that east Greensboro lacks access to grocery stores, Falls said, “It wouldn’t just be that I’m a council member, but that I would have a relationship with someone else to leverage a discussion with a Food Lion vice president.”

Rather than spend more money on policing, Falls emphasizes neighborhood and youth involvement as ways to increase public safety in District 1. He concurs with incumbent Dianne Bellamy-Small and fellow candidate Jeramy Reid that a set of public-art benches along the Downtown Greenway in the Warnersville neighborhood should stay.

“People that live there need to be proactive,” Falls said. “When you have a community that makes it widely known that certain behavior is unacceptable, that gets through. And when people do what they’re going to do, you call the police.”

He added that he would work with young people to reduce crime. “I’ve been talking with Chief [Tim] Bellamy about additional resources for youth activities,” Falls said. “Having those resources will prevent people from committing crimes. I’d like to develop a youth task force of young people that would work directly with me.”

Falls also supports the concept of a police complaint review committee with subpoena power. One of the leading proponents of the idea is NC Rep. Earl Jones, who represented District 1 on city council before being voted out in 2001.

“For a long time the citizens of District 1 and District 2 have had concerns about the police,” Falls said. “The people in the community need to know the police. The officers patrolling the area need to know the people in the community so people will feel comfortable calling them to address problems.”

Falls applauds Mayor Yvonne Johnson’s handling of diversity. “She has the ability to work across different cultural backgrounds,” he said. “I really admire her for that. I would like to help her.”

And while the Latino community has not yet flexed its political muscle, Falls said he is eager to engage them.

“We have basically the same issues,” the candidate said. “We need jobs, better public safety and lower crime in our neighborhoods. Making sure there’s after-school activities for kids. Education, also: not just to be able to speak English better, but to be trained for jobs.”