Fischer charts independent course

by Jordan Green

During his 20 years in the Navy, Greensboro City Council candidate Dan Fischer served as a corpsman providing acute care on the front lines. He advocated for the patients and staff under his command.

“The people that I worked with got the awards and promotions they deserved,” the candidate said. “There was one tough school that had to do with cardiac technicians. I had two of my corpsmen get in there. All my guys got awards. The biggest reason they got the awards is because they did the work. I was the one in front.”

Along with Nettie Coad, Gordon M. Hester, and Jim Kee, Fischer is running for the open District 2 seat vacated by retiring Councilwoman Goldie Wells. Fischer has staked out a unique set of ideas, and established himself as an advocate for balancing the scales between the city’s affluent and poor.

“I’ve seen the unequal growth in Greensboro,” he said. “We need to change that. On one side of Pisgah Church Road you see the refugees who are not making it, and on the other you see the multimillionaires.”

With the Urban Loop coming through northeast Greensboro, Fischer said he would like to find ways to encourage minority-owned small businesses to stabilize neighborhoods and prevent a cycle of low-quality development and blight.

Seated at a café table outside Dolce Aroma, a favored downtown coffee shop, on a recent Wednesday afternoon Fischer floated a variety of sustainability initiatives, some of which would require state cooperation: Harvesting methane from the White Street Landfill to run the city’s bus fleet, placing solar panels on institutional buildings, salvaging food from restaurants to feed homeless people and school children, and establishing a redemption program for citizens to claim deposits from recycled containers. He acknowledged that many green initiatives would require front-end investment.

“Do I think we need to cut [the city budget]?” the candidate asked. “No. Here’s why. We cut costs last time. We could have used that money to put solar panels on the roofs of our city buildings. Down the line, we’ll achieve some savings from that, and we could use the money to increase health and dental benefits for our city employees.”

As an unaffiliated candidate, Fischer is running independently of the Democratic and Republican machinery. He said he isn’t trying to raise money. He feels confident he could work with anyone on council.

“I’m not going to scratch your back, so you can scratch mine later,” he said. “Don’t work that way.”

On a topic that many sitting council members and candidates find radioactive — street gangs — Fischer suggested that the city shift its posture. He said he recently spent two hours talking to Jorge Cornell, a leader of the Latin Kings who is running at-large.

“There’s only one way to get individuals out of gangs, and it has nothing to do with the police,” Fischer said. “Education, housing and a living-wage job. That’s not from me. That’s from the leaders of the Bloods and the Crips. Jorge and I have talked about that.

“Our police force needs to work with the gangs,” he continued. “I understand you need to watch gangs, but you don’t need to be sitting there 24/7 on one person’s house.”

He would like to bring the police chief under the control of the mayor, and give citizens more oversight over the police department.

“We need to have a committee composed of nothing but civilians,” Fischer said. “It should have enough power that if they saw something seriously wrong they should be able to call a grand jury.”