Gordon M. Hester, District 2 candidate

Residential address: 1537 Rockspring St., 27405Gordon_M._Hester.JPG

Incumbent or challenger? (Open seat)

Age: 56

Campaign website or blog: Facebook

Occupation and employer: Coordinating counselor, unspecified government grant program; Army reservist; assistant pastor, True Worship Missionary Baptist Church

Previous elective experience (including election campaigns): Volunteer for Obama, 2008

Civic and volunteer experience (including service on city commissions and boards): Special Olympics, United Negro College Fund, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Masons

Education (highest degree attained and name of institution): Master in public administration, Central Michigan University

Party registration: Democrat (nonpartisan race)

What is the city and state of your birth? Buffalo Junction, Va.

If not Greensboro, what year did you move here? Has worked in Greensboro since 2002

Paid consultants working on your campaign: None

Your campaign manager(s): Self

Your treasurer: Self

Remarks from Sept. 22 candidate forum:

Introductory statement

Good afternoon. My name is Gordon Hester. I’m a 33-year military veteran. I’m also a reverend. I’m also a counselor at schools in GuilfordCounty. I also have two kids. I’ve lived here approximately five years. I’ve worked here seven years. My main mission is to develop a be-know-do-it attitude – you know, see it, do it and get it done. I think in my short time being here I’ve seen problems that could have been fixed and haven’t been fixed. My job is to usher in a new era in Greensboro, take it from the sixties to the two thousands.

How do you plan to promote the economic development of east Greensboro?

People are the bottom line for economic growth. Greensboro is a place where higher education and education is a porthole. It’s a porthole to the future, I don’t think that we’ll retain and help young people in Greensboro to support a family. I think that if we keep our best and brightest minds here, then we’ll grow. Growth comes from new ideas. And you get those from people who transplants into an area. I think Greensboro has for a long time lived in the past. And for our growth we have to look at the ones from UNCG, A&T, Bennett, GreensboroCollege. Those are the minds that we’re training, and we’re losing them every year. In order for us to grow, we have to keep these smart minds here. If we keep these smart minds here, then we will grow. Thank you.

The city of Greensboro recently annexed the Cardinal in northwest Greensboro and three subdivisions near McLeansville. Under what circumstances do you think it is appropriate for the council to annex new land?

It’s appropriate in most areas to expand the city. However, before you start to expand you should make sure that you’ve done long-range staff studies. If you look at the 1940s problem with the landfill, I think in the future you should be able to base annexation based in the fact that we have to look and see what needs to be done prior to doing it. Sometimes you can hop into a fire too fast. It’s important to increase the revenue. And that’s what annexation does; it increases the revenue. You should also look at, what is it going to do to the actual physical makeup of the city. There are a lot of areas, not only in McLeansville, where the city wants to include as part of the city, but you need to stop for a moment, right, and say, “Okay, five years, ten years, what is this going to add to the city?” Are we capable now of managing our city without adding other areas? We get water now from Reidsville. So are we ready to take on other places when we get our water from Reidsville? So you have to look at the place itself and say, “Are we ready to annex somebody else into a system that’s not quite capable of managing what’s already there? So my thing is that I’m slow for annexing; I think that it should be a long-range thing done and done very, very patiently because all areas you pull into your city you might not want to include them.

Can you describe your leadership style and how you will work with other council members?

[Like] my distinguished colleague here to my left, I’ve been in the military now for 33 years. And it’s hard sometimes to define who you are from different times. Currently, I work as a chaplain, which is a little bit toned down. I don’t get to yell and scream and stomp my feet. But what I do understand is that a great leader is one who is willing to allow other people the chance to excel and be and do. And if you allow other people to do then you build a team. So what has happened in the past, I think, you have your little baby and you want to keep it all to yourself. I think to be an excellent person in leadership you have to spread the wealth, allow each individual to bring up their good or whatever they have to offer. Bring it to the table and use it for what it is. You cannot succeed by doing it all by yourself. So I don’t know if I answered your question or not, but my leadership is a style that is one that be, know, do, allow each individual to excel. Allow each person of climbing to the heights that they’re capable of going to. And always be open, open for change. That’s me…. Always smile.

A lot of council people and candidates use youth in their campaigns and make a lot of promises. What will you do to include the youth in decision-making and moving Greensboro forward?

Currently I work with – I have a client base of 300 kids in Greensboro. You know, it’s nice at the end of the year when you get the thank you from the superintendent saying, “You know, I’m so glad that you volunteered with the kids, but what you have to understand is my distinguished colleague and myself, we have kids. And we’ve learned – because we both come from a country, farm background. And we learned early that you have to support the neighborhood in order to have an efficient neighborhood. And so every day of my job working in Greensboro has been dedicated to working with kids. I work with kids from Dudley [High School] and Smith [High School], Allen [Middle School], Hairston [Middle School]. That’s what I do. I think that perhaps the only problem that’s going on in Greensboro – and this is kind of offline, but you don’t have enough people actually going into the schools and places to actually help. So my thing would be to encourage every person here and everybody else to go and give their time. Your time is what will make our young people better. And I’m sure that this is something that we share – and we’ve talked about it before earlier in the year – that if there’s more people involved with kids, the kids would be better. Simple as that. More people have to work with kids to make kids better. Go out, reach in, wherever you are, volunteer at school… and make a difference.

What will you do to advocate for the needs of older adults and people with disabilities?

I think that that’s a community effort. You have to be there in order to understand it. Most people who are as young as I am you’re not experiencing an age factor. But my parents did and I was able to see how – it cost us $69,000 per year just for my parents to stay at home. And they were able to afford it. But what we have to do is take a close look and see, can older citizens in Greensboro afford to live…. How many older citizens in Greensboro make less than $400,000 a year? That’s a vast amount of people right there who cannot afford…. So you have to do studies to understand just where we are and where we need to go. I think there’s probably a problem in Greensboro because, as I look around my neighborhood, most of the people in my neighborhood are age 55 and up. In 10 years, we’ll all be senior citizens…. You really have to look deep and see, well, what’s wrong with the care they’re receiving now, what should be improved, and how long will it take to actually fix the problem? I think that the problem is fixable, but currently there is a problem as far as lack of income to sustain themselves.

Closing statement

The truth is, the advantage that I have is that my partner here has a degree in economics and went to A&T; I have a master’s degree in public administration and went to Michigan. That’s the only disadvantage that we share. But we do share the same idea, right, that win, lose or draw, what we want to do is see Greensboro go into the next years with growth that will be able to be seen by people riding down 40 and 85 and say, “You know what, I want to move to Greensboro. We want prosperity and growth. That’s what I want. My promise to you is that if I am elected, I will do my job. If I’m not elected, I will do my job. That’s my promise. I think that perhaps we forget sometimes that there’s always a job before and after. So if I do not win, and Mr. Kee does not call me, or Ms. Coad does not also call me and say, “Well, Gordon, what are you going to do?” well, I’m going to have a real problem. Because I am willing to step forward and say, “I want to see Greensboro prosper.” That’s what I want to do: See Greensboro prosper.

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