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GSO still likes to say ‘No’

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Taking stock of the 2006 elections with smoke still drifting from the ruins we see that it was an unspinnably good year for the Democrats, who gained a majority in both houses of Congress.

But here in Guilford County there were few surprises in the general elections as incumbents more or less held on to their seats of power. Candidates endorsed by YES! Weekly did fairly well, losing in just seven races of the 36 on the ballot and reassuring us that our sensibilities jibe fairly well with the prevailing mindset, at least in matters of elected officials.

Which is cool with us: Endorsements are not about picking winners but about applying editorial positions to flesh-and-blood politicians and when we made our picks we did so unconcerned with the candidates’ electability. Same goes for the Greensboro bond issues, which we split roughly down the middle in print.

We were in favor of funds for the Civil Rights Museum and Greensboro Historical Museum, renovations to War Memorial Stadium and War Memorial Auditorium, monies for the library system and parks and recreation and about $850,000 earmarked for the renovation of the Ole Asheboro neighborhood.

But some of us were privately convinced that the majority of the bonds were preordained to pass. We felt the prevailing mood in the city, one of optimism and progressive growth encompassed in the pithy slogan of our mayor – that’s PGA for Positive Greensboro Attitude – combined with a high-profile PR campaign employing campaign signs, a television commercial peopled by local civic boosters and a not-too-shabby slogan of its own – Keep Greensboro Going – might just grease the wheels for these projects, some of which, quite frankly, smelled like pork to us.

In the aftermath there were some surprises.

We did not expect that six of the bond issues would fail to garner the support of city voters. And two of the ones that passed – referendums for new fire stations, which we feel should be budgeted within existing tax revenues, and economic development, which looks like corporate welfare to us – defied the collective wisdom in our newsroom.

But in hindsight it makes sense.

The 2006 elections will be remembered as a righting of the ship, a correction of the market or a necessary adjustment to a system gone drunk with power. Sure, things have progressed in this town over the last four or five years – downtown rejuvenation and vaguely favorable business conditions chief among them. But at its heart, Greensboro is still the town that likes to say “No” – especially when it comes to matters of perceived special-interest spending, no matter how many clever epithets are applied to it.

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