Greensboro City Council election 2005: Where the candidates stand
Our editorial and news departments ‘— a handful of people who change hats as circumstances require, including inveterate columnist and former Greater Greensboro Observer editor Ogi Overman ‘— convened to determine what we wanted to ask the 23 candidates for Greensboro City Council, including the unopposed mayor, an unopposed councilman, confident incumbents, valiant challengers and contenders for two open seats.
We asked questions about issues we think our readers will care about. You might discern themes from a number of stories we’ve pursued during our eight months of publication. In other areas, we took our cues from other media outlets and Greensboro bloggers to try to evenly represent the concerns of Greensboro voters. After a painful process of winnowing, we narrowed our questions down to 10.
Each candidate had a maximum of 75 words to answer each question. In some cases, they delivered their written responses; in other cases, staff reporter Jordan Green took their answers over the phone. In the following pages, you’ll find the answers to the first set of five questions. In our Sept. 28 issue, we’ll publish the second set.
May the best ideas prevail.
Q:What is your position on the practice of giving taxpayer money to corporations to induce job creation and capital investment? Do you support the policy of economic incentives? What criteria, if any, do you think should be used to determine which corporations receive city funds?
Keith Holliday (incumbent): The key word is investment. I am in favor of competing with other cities that are offering incentives to the same company Greensboro is recruiting. I do support Greensboro’s economic policies.
Sandra Anderson: There are circumstances when giving incentives to corporations to induce job creation and capital investment. I support economic incentives on a case-by-case basis. The criteria that I believe is important has to do with the size of the company, the number of citizens to be able to receive employment, the income range of the employment and the location of the company.
Diane Davis: Paying businesses and industries to locate in our area is not the right thing to do. That money should be spent on maintaining and improving the quality of life right here.
We have an abundant workforce willing and capable of learning new skills. Greensboro is strategically located and has highways, rail service, airport facilities, educational institutions and research facilities.
The excuse for giving these bribes that ‘everybody is doing it’ sounds like a teenager’s argument.
Florence Gatten: Incentives are merely a tool. Creating new jobs and raising the per capita income of all citizens is my top priority. Key considerations for awarding incentives are: number of new jobs and what they would pay, potential environmental impact, desirability of securing corporate headquarters location, business cluster compatibility (build on existing strengths). Salaries offered must exceed the Guilford County average wage of $34,900. I do not support incentives for retail development.
Dave Howerton: I think giving taxpayer’s money to corporations for incentives is wrong. I think Congress should make it illegal. But in reality, we have to find a way to compete for new business. We should pool our resources as a region (working with other governments) to attract and keep business here. The criteria to determine who gets money should emphasize job creation more than capital investment.
Yvonne Johnson, mayor pro tem (incumbent): I am in favor of economic incentives. Our unemployment in Guilford County is 5.7 percent. I am in favor of incentives that provide jobs that pay livable wages and that are environmental friendly.
Joel Landau: I am wary of using taxpayer money to ‘lure’ business; companies first look at demographics, infrastructure suitability, the availability of an adequately educated workforce, and quality of life issues to help attract key employees. Let’s concentrate on these areas. If economic incentives are given, generalize them so other companies in the area may also benefit.
I strongly support locally-owned businesses, and want to be sure they are not competitively disadvantaged by incentives.
George Subasavage: I understand that economic incentives for job creation and capital investments may be a ‘necessary evil.’
There would have to be guarantees from the corporations that as taxpayers we will get our money back over a specified period. In other words it would be considered a loan. Maybe a low interest loan, but nonetheless a loan. I would not support this for a retail business as it may affect existing retails.
Don Vaughan (incumbent): The policy of incentives for new and existing businesses should be exercised carefully by the city council. The policy we have adopted only comes into play once a corporation has moved to Greensboro and established a number of very specific criteria. The best incentive for new industry is for the city council to provide the infrastructure (water, sewer, roads) to make Greensboro’s quality of life second to none.
Dianne Bellamy-Small (incumbent): I think there are times when it is appropriate to consider using incentives. The formula we use does not give the taxpayers’ money away. It is an investment on attracting real jobs and income back to the city. It has very strict guidelines that include a strenuous due diligence process which is followed by a formal written contract between the city and the company which establishes performance benchmarks such as the number of jobs created.
Charles Dayton Coffey: Economic incentives are necessary for economic growth. Think of it as fishing. To catch fish one must bait the hook. However, the city should look at each proposal individually because each one would have different circumstances. Working-class people are the main consumers that fuel the economy. Therefore, consider the number of jobs that would be created. Always look at the long-term return on whatever investment would be required.
Luther T. Falls Jr.: I support economic incentives on a case-by-case basis. I also support looking at the utilization of those funds for existing small businesses in addition to new businesses. I think we would need to see their financial information for five years. How many jobs will these corporations generate? What kinds of community relations resources do they have to give back?
Lewis Byers: I don’t think that it’s good to keep giving money to corporations. Look at the big businesses that have gone belly up after receiving economic incentives.
Toni Graves Henderson: Fundamentally, I do not like the idea, but it seems like in order for cities like Greensboro to grow, we have to give in to be competitive with other cities. I would consider giving incentives to companies bringing their operations to Greensboro if the economic benefit to the city is clear.
Goldie Wells: I support economic incentives because it is a way to increase the job opportunities for the citizens of our cities and our county, especially for the economic development in underserved areas such as east Greensboro. I don’t think these incentives have to necessarily be tax breaks, but providing infrastructure, relaxing some zoning restrictions, and extending some other gestures of welcome could be used to invite developers and retailers who are considering our city.
Ed Whitfield: Incentives are a two-edged sword helping one business sometimes at the expense of hurting another. I prefer infrastructure incentives whose benefits extend beyond the immediate business being sought and can be part of enhancing the whole community. Transportation, education, roads services and utilities that will be available broadly are better than tax breaks. The criteria for any incentive should be the capacity to improve the community.
Tom Phillips: I am generally opposed to incentives unless the project is going to make a quantum change for the betterment of our community. We should require that to be eligible corporations should be willing to locate in areas most beneficial to the community such as downtown or east Greensboro.
Mike Barber: (No response)
Joseph W. Rahenkamp Sr.: My plan is to give incentives to everyone, anyone that is building’— commercial or residential. Give them the building permit for free. Then you’ll more than get back what they lose on permits.
I would have to look at [what criteria should be used to determine which corporations receive city funds] on an individual basis.
Janet M. Wallace: If the investment that is being requested can be recouped in a reasonable amount of time, then the incentives can be beneficial for us. A lot of consideration and analysis needs to go into each request to make sure the investment will be beneficial. Council needs to make sure that the company is keeping its end of any agreement and making sure that any monies provided are spent on what it was requested for.
Sandy Carmany (incumbent): Economic incentives are a ‘necessary evil’ to be awarded only when they will positively influence a decision to locate in Greensboro. Criteria include the amount of private investment, the number and salary level of quality jobs, and the company’s commitment to remain in Greensboro.
I do not support incentives for retail development due to low salary levels of those jobs. New stores do not generate many new dollars, but merely redistribute sales from other businesses.
Angela Epps Carmichael: (No response)
Todd Schmidt: I believe that tax incentives should be given on a case-by-case basis. I would do anything I could to support local businesses and if that required economic incentives I would keep that option open. If it promotes jobs, then I would be in favor of it. I don’t believe in huge corporate taxpayer giveaways as several communities around the country have given to build large global corporations like Wal-Mart, instead of local industries and businesses.
Q:How do you feel about the independent Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its examination of the ideological tensions that spilled over into a deadly confrontation in November 1979? Do you think the city council should take a more active role in the truth process? If so, how? Should the city council take a stronger position against the truth process? Again, how?
Keith Holliday (incumbent): I have stated my position on several occasions regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Project. I do not believe the current process will serve the public in a productive way. The city council should wait until the report is completed by the [Truth and Reconciliation] Commission, at which time I encourage the council to read the report.
Sandra Anderson: I am for unity and healing. My record proves that. I have not researched this subject. What I know about it, I have read in the paper and heard on the street. The vote of city council concerning the truth and reconciliation process has been made. There will be a report available in the spring of 2006. I am looking forward to that report.’
Diane Davis: Oral history in an atmosphere of understanding is a good thing. The findings of this commission should be added to the known history of the incident. City government should review the findings of the independent study when it is complete and respond at that time.
Florence Gatten: This is the wrong focus; examining something that happened 25 years ago takes energy and resources away from addressing current and future needs. The public must make the distinction between the GT&R Commission and the GT&R Project. The commission neither wanted nor needed city council’s endorsement to begin their work. My speaking out about this project has caused the harassment of potential witnesses to the commission hearings to cease.
Dave Howerton: I personally do not think we need to spend more time and resources on what happened in November 1979. I think the city council should remain neutral on the issue. We should concentrate on making things better today and not on trying to change the past.
Yvonne Johnson, mayor pro tem (incumbent): I think the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a valid and necessary entity to begin the process of examining truth from many perspectives which I believe will facilitate healing and forgiveness. I was in favor of a resolution of support for the work of the commission.
Joel Landau: Something is amiss when people are murdered on city streets in broad daylight and the known killers are set free. This is currently a divisive issue but I think it’s important for the future unity and reconciliation of the city that we learn the truth about how that came about. I believe city council should endorse the work of the commission, and encourage any city official with relevant information to come forward with that information.
George Subasavage: I know there have been other high profile national cases that have since been opened that occurred longer than 26 years ago. However I believe that what happened in Greensboro in 1979 should be left alone. I’m sure things have been learned since this tragedy, but nothing is going to change what happened. It’s over ‘— move on.
City council should take no active role for or against the truth process.
Don Vaughan (incumbent): The Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be independent of any city action. The commission does not have the ability to subpoena witnesses, compel testimony, or cross-examine. Their final report and work-product will come out in several months and I will take a look to see what benefit it may be to Greensboro citizens.
Dianne Bellamy-Small (incumbent): I think it is time to let people find a way to heal from this tragedy that happened in Greensboro. The city cannot heal and move on if you do not search for truth and find a proper way to put it to rest.
I think the city council participated appropriately when they were asked to help in the forming of the commission.
I think the process is a healthy one.
Charles Dayton Coffey: On that tragic day in 1979 five people were killed. To date in 2005 eighteen people have been killed in Greensboro. The city council took the correct stance. If you have not healed in 25 years you are not going to. When an unnatural death occurs, it is investigated intensively. The eyes of the nation and the world were upon us. A criminal conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s time to move on.
Luther T. Falls Jr.: I support the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission initiative. I think the council should take a more active role in the truth process because it’s about the city of Greensboro as a whole, not just any one part of it. Council members who feel inclined should attend meetings of the commission and provide input.
Lewis Byers: More than they are doing now. If no one was going to have legal action for their part, why start something you don’t need? That’s not going anywhere.
Toni Graves Henderson: I do not feel like the city council should be involved in the truth process. The city council as an organization should remain focused on moving the city forward. The reconciliation commission is doing a good job to help the city through its healing process and understanding of the tragedy.
Goldie Wells: I think the truth and reconciliation commission has an awesome task that needs to be completed. City council should support the investigation; it looks as if the council doesn’t want to hear the truth. I think this does more harm to race relations, the very thing some members of the council think they are protecting.
We may decide as a city that we know it happened, we have some regrets and we’ve learned some lessons.
Ed Whitfield: I support the GTRC. The city should have endorsed the process and I think ultimately it will. It should have made available any police and city documents and personnel that could make the process go deeper with the understanding that no prosecutions would take place on the basis of the information made available.
Tom Phillips: I don’t believe it will accomplish much and it is a waste of a lot of energy that could be used on issues of importance to the community. I don’t believe that the city council needs to be involved in the process. We didn’t want to take a stand for or against, but took a stand against it when the Truth & Reconciliation Project forced the issue on us.
Mike Barber: (No response)
Joseph W. Rahenkamp Sr.: What is done is done and over with. It’s just going to open up new wounds. It’s time to come together ‘— all races and all nations ‘— and try to get along. I think [the city council] ought to more or less stay neutral.
Janet M. Wallace: This is a community-organized commission looking into an event that occurred in our city that seeks open dialogue about the events that occurred that day. The city council has no role in this process. When the commission feels they have the information that they are seeking, then their findings could be presented to the council. However, there should be no expectation of the council to take any action.
Sandy Carmany (incumbent): The city should not take a more active role in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s activities, for or against. We should merely provide pertinent public information and documents as requested. Past and present city employees may participate ‘— or not ‘— on an individual basis without fear of retribution.
I have serious concerns about the accuracy of findings 25+ years after the event and will reserve personal judgment until I have read the completed document.
Angela Epps Carmichael: (No response)
Todd Schmidt: I don’t believe the city council needs to get involved in a private organization’s investigation. I do think this is a law enforcement matter, and that is as far as city government should get into it. I don’t think in America people should be gunned down in the middle of the street and we should just forget about it. I don’t believe families of the victims need to be asked to get over it.
Q:Should the city require developers to pay for things like sidewalks, multi-use trails and bike racks when they apply for permits for residential or retail developments to make our city more livable, or should the city take a hands-off approach to development? Explain your position.
Keith Holliday (incumbent): We currently have certain standards that we require from developers. They include sidewalks and green space. I feel that those standards are adequate.
Sandra Anderson: The city does now require developers to provide sidewalks and in many areas, open space. This space can be used as the homeowners and/or their associations choose. These uses could include biking and walking trails or paths. I believe this is an appropriate expense of the developer.
Diane Davis: The city council should never take a hands-off approach to development. There are certainly areas where there is a need for required amenities. I believe that all new residential and commercial development should be pedestrian friendly and there should be safety provisions made for bike riders on through streets. Developers should be required to pay for sidewalks. Safety of auto and bike traffic should be primarily the duty of the city.
Florence Gatten: Development in the Post-Comprehensive Plan days is a whole new world. Development standards have increased and these, coupled with the watershed protection requirements, are having a real impact on how development looks. On city council I have taken an active role in ensuring infill development contains sufficient conditions to protect existing neighborhoods and boost quality of life with sidewalks, open spaces, landscape buffers and other amenities.
Dave Howerton: I think it would be nice if developers would pay for sidewalks and other amenities, but I do not think it should be mandatory. New development has to be done without infringing on the rights of others and I believe it needs to be done with less intrusion by the government.
Yvonne Johnson, mayor pro tem (incumbent): I would be in favor of a middle ground. The city should pay for things that are used by the greater public. However, certain amenities should be negotiated between the developer and the city. The council passed a sidewalk ordinance and the developers are required to provide sidewalks.
Joel Landau: A ‘hands-off’ approach is an oxymoron; developers generally want the city to provide water, sewer, safe roads, police, fire and emergency services, at the least. Providing these all have real costs to the taxpayers. I’d like to see Greensboro more accessible to walkers and cyclists, and this could be part of the permitting process. There needs to be flexibility though for case-by-case review because there will likely be situations that need different treatment.
George Subasavage: The city should take a hands-on approach with developers. That being said, the city needs to be consistent with all developers when requiring such things as sidewalks, multi-use trails and bike racks. I do not know if the city has ‘flip/flopped’ on these issues in the past, but it cannot in the future.
Don Vaughan (incumbent): Developers should play a role with regard to sidewalks, etc., which have a direct effect on their property. City tax dollars should be used for playgrounds, trails and other programs that benefit the public to make our city more livable. We should strongly encourage developers to begin working with the city early in the development process.
Dianne Bellamy-Small (incumbent): The city cannot take a hands-off approach to development. The city has attempted through the Comprehensive Plan to give everyone a guide for planning for the city’s future including land use. We have a process that has citizen and developer input and staff support to help make this process go well for everyone concerned. Certain requirements such as sidewalks, green space and road improvements generally are a win-win for the developer and the citizens.
Charles Dayton Coffey: The city should never take a hands-off approach. There are many things to consider, water quality for one. Incentives can be applied here. Sidewalks are a public area and necessary. One needs to look at the investment and its return. If this is residential, please include a small area for play. Our children need not play in the streets.
Luther T. Falls Jr.: It depends on what’s already available. If there are none there, the city should strongly recommend the addition of such things as sidewalks, multi-use trails and bike racks when the developers are applying for permits. Particularly in our part of the city sidewalks are badly needed. A lot of young people and old people in the city like to walk.
Lewis Byers: Yes, I think the developer should pay for them. That can be their contribution to the community upgrade.
Toni Graves Henderson: It’s the city council’s responsibility to envision and create a community that is safe, enjoyable and prosperous for all. I want to be proud of my city. The aim of developers is to make money, mostly for their investors. Although development is often very good for our city, it will not lead to the city we want in every instance. As we create our vision, we will need to work hand in hand with developers.
Goldie Wells: I think the city has to maintain standards to ensure that the citizens of Greensboro have impartial living conditions. But every case is different and some situations dictate different requirements.
Ed Whitfield: When economically feasible, the city should include such amenities in development plans. The burden should be on the developer to show that a waiver might be needed in some cases of marginal plans. Some cooperation between developers and the city planning staff should be encouraged along these lines.
Tom Phillips: We currently require sidewalks in new developments.’ Beyond that, we should offer incentives to developers to provide other amenities such as parks, trails, open space, etc. We have to keep in mind that simply requiring more things raises the cost of housing.
Mike Barber: (No response)
Joseph W. Rahenkamp Sr.: I’m a real estate broker. I would more or less have to look at the situation. The more the developer spends the more the purchaser is going to have to pay for it. A lot of people are hollering. The more’s added to it the more it’s going to cost people to try to buy their home.
Janet M. Wallace: Developers should incorporate these items in their plans because I think residents will want these amenities. Developers will recoup the cost of these items in the sale/rental of the property. The city’s role is to make sure that our communities are safe. If sidewalks will improve the safety of children playing, going to school, or adults walking to work, shopping or for exercise, the council should look into ways of working them into development.
Sandy Carmany (incumbent): Desirable growth can be achieved in Greensboro using the concepts outlined in the Comprehensive Plan. A ‘hands-off’ approach can cause expensive problems and does not use the city’s limited land and infrastructure resources efficiently.
The cost of some improvements such as sidewalks and other transportation upgrades identified in the Traffic Impact Study should be borne by the developer. Density bonuses or other trade-offs should be offered in return for donated parkland and/or open space.
Angela Epps Carmichael: (No response)
Todd Schmidt: No. I don’t believe needed to over-regulate businesses trying to grow the city. Overregulation stunts economic development, and that’s not something I want to get involved in. On the city council I would encourage economic growth, and I don’t believe this type of legislation promotes economic growth.
Q:The Comprehensive Plan suggests that new growth be concentrated on the east side of Greensboro, yet this is not happening. Why not, and what can be done to encourage growth in that sector?
Keith Holliday (incumbent): Actually, growth is increasing on the east side of Greensboro and will accelerate with more water and sewer extensions. We must remember there must be a balance regarding council-directed development in a free market society.
Sandra Anderson: Development is driven by the market. Our company has done a dozen or more housing developments in east Greensboro over the past 20 years. This has been using our own money. East Greensboro can grow like other sections of the city. It will have to start from the bottom up and not the top down. It will have to be a realistic plan, not an ideological plan. It will take action, not talk.’
Diane Davis: Infrastructure improvements and redevelopment of abandoned areas should be a major concern to the city government. Government should encourage development of employment opportunities in the area as well as shopping areas and a mix of property uses including moderate and higher-end single-family and multi-family residential. Better transportation options should also be pursued.
Florence Gatten: Development is market driven. Period. Unless the City is willing to purchase the land and self-develop, we cannot make/compel development. However there is increased activity in eastern Greensboro ‘— something that will be on the rise as the new water and sewer boundaries are implemented and council makes plans about offering some kind of infrastructure incentives. As the (current) District 4 representative, I know the development pressures on NW Greensboro first hand.
Dave Howerton: I hate to say it, but I think that east Greensboro is perceived as the minority side of town. There is growth happening in eastern Guilford County and it will probably start coming back toward the city.
Yvonne Johnson, mayor pro tem (incumbent): I beg to differ. Growth is definitely occurring in northeast Greensboro. There are numerous new housing developments off Summit Avenue, Lees Chapel Road and Highway 29 North (Savanna Run, Jackson Point, Hidden Forest, O’Henry). A portion of Pisgah Church Road is in northeast Greensboro and development is booming. As Painter Boulevard is completed, the northeast will be a priority. Also, the Wal-Mart at old Carolina Circle Mall is being built.
Joel Landau: Lack of affluence contributes to ‘why not,’ along with the lack of an enticing investment policy. The city could better publicize the low-interest loan money available for east-side development, and identify key locations to assist. Improve housing; partner with Bennett College and A&T. Perhaps a ‘retail’ business incubator is feasible and would be productive. Also, find new funding sources to continue the good work of the Department of Housing and Community Development.
George Subasavage: I have not seen the Comprehensive Plan and therefore its suggestions for the concentrated growth on the east side of Greensboro. Perhaps looking at what is happening along MLK Drive and Southside may be of some help.
Don Vaughan (incumbent): The city council has worked to insure that infrastructure is in place to attract growth on the east side of Greensboro. The new East Market Street Corridor, improvements to 29 North, as well as the completion of Painter Boulevard will help to encourage large and small business to east Greensboro. The Reedy Fork project, the new Wal-Mart located at the old Carolina Circle Mall show that this process is starting.
Dianne Bellamy-Small (incumbent): There has been growth in east Greensboro. The Comprehensive Plan is a 25- year plan that is barely two years old that is a guiding document for the entire city. There are several pieces to the puzzle for new growth that must be put in place such as water and sewer, road connection, appropriateness of the development proposed for the area. Growth cannot be hurried. It must be carefully planned, committed to, and then developed.
Charles Dayton Coffey: The Comprehensive Plan was designed to fill fringe areas of our city. This would give Greensboro a larger tax base that would be more efficient in providing services. Incentives will be given to developers to restore areas of Greensboro, especially the east side. To have a strong economy we need security. Our police provide that security. The city council did not properly address the police staffing issue. That is why I seek this seat.
Luther T. Falls Jr.: I don’t feel the east Greensboro part of the plan has been emphasized enough. The business leaders and others involved in development, that is the realtors, have not embraced the plan the way they should. Business leaders need to be meeting with the neighborhood associations so they can find out about the demographics and the market. The community and the business leaders need to be meeting and talking with each other. That’s not happening.
Lewis Byers: I would have to look into the Comprehensive Plan. What I see is nothing on the northeast side of town.
Toni Graves Henderson: Although there has been some development on the east side, it is not as economically attractive for builders and developers as it could be. We need strong community-minded builders and developers. Crime and drugs have been barriers in some east Greensboro areas; these problems must be addressed to pave the way for further development. The city should lead the process of identifying other barriers for growth in this area and then remove those barriers.
Goldie Wells: Some present undesirable conditions cause east Greensboro to be unattractive to developers and retailers. In order to foster new growth in east Greensboro there has to be a concerted and aggressive effort initiated and maintained by the city. Incentives such as providing infrastructure, relaxing some zoning restrictions, and extending some other gestures of welcome could be used to invite developers and retailers who are considering this part of the city.
Ed Whitfield: The weakness of development in eastern Greensboro is complex. The closing of Carolina Circle Mall, K-Mart, numerous grocery stores, etc. has been going on for years. There is a need to draw together an East Greensboro Growth Council to democratically and broadly study these issues and recommend changes, plans and incentives to make available needed amenities in these communities.
Tom Phillips: Market forces determine where things go, not the planning department. We are seeing growth beginning to happen in eastern Greensboro. Most of it has been residential and is occurring near the outer loop. As I mentioned in question #1, the incentives policy should be used to encourage businesses to locate in areas such as east Greensboro rather than at the airport.
Mike Barber: (No response)
Joseph W. Rahenkamp Sr.: I don’t believe in forcing growth. I am for just letting it flow as it wants to. I don’t think you should show favoritism east, west, north or south.
Janet M. Wallace: I believe this will change once improvements to East Market Street and Highway 29 are done and the urban loop is completed.
Sandy Carmany (incumbent): Development follows where good infrastructure is in place ‘— water, sewer and transportation. We are working to provide those development essentials in east Greensboro. Businesses willing to locate in east Greensboro should receive more flexible tax incentives terms. The city is also exploring the opportunity of establishing an office/corporate park in the eastern part of the city as well as cooperating with A&T University in its efforts to develop portions of the A&T Farm property.
Angela Epps Carmichael: (No response)
Todd Schmidt: I don’t think we can force growth in any sector. I would, however, be open to economic incentives to grow the east side if I thought it was economically viable for the city. An improved public transportation system would encourage development in areas where it isn’t as rapid as other areas.
Q:Aside from basic services, in what areas do you favor spending discretionary taxpayer dollars? The Atlantic Coast Conference museum? The coliseum? The International Civil Rights Museum? Downtown park maintenance? Other projects?
Keith Holliday (incumbent): I do favor spending taxpayer dollars on non-essential services and capital projects when those investments are determined to improve the quality of life in Greensboro that ultimately contributes to generating jobs.
Sandra Anderson: Public safety is concern of all citizens. It is a priority to me to see what our city is doing in the area of public safety and what we might do better. This is a fundamental need.
Diane Davis: Government should provide essential services and amenities that are not easily done individually.
I plan to review city services and fees and make recommendations to city council. More citizen involvement in deciding what services and amenities are provided is a key goal of mine. Citizens have a right to know how money is spent and a right to decide how much. I favor citizen-initiated referendums, with a time limit on repeated requests.
Florence Gatten: There are no discretionary dollars. Upfitting our water and sewer pipeline will cost over $200 million (which is why water bill rates will increase by 10 percent over the next five years). Our park system is known nationwide; I support the minimal maintenance cost of the $12 million downtown park ‘— a gift to the city. The coliseum is an entertainment venue that is valued by people from all walks of life with 700+ events annually.
Dave Howerton: I think we need to concentrate on providing and improving our basic services. I do not like the word ‘discretionary’ used with taxpayer funds. All the projects you listed are probably good things for Greensboro, but I think they should be funded privately with the exception of the coliseum. It should be self-sustaining, but since it is owned by the city, we have to take care of it.
Yvonne Johnson, mayor pro tem (incumbent): Affordable housing; downtown revitalization (this would include the Civil Rights Museum; this will be a great tourist attraction); proactive infrastructure planning to enhance economic development.
Joel Landau: I’m not aware of discretionary (usage not specifically earmarked) dollars in the budget. Aside from basic services, we need to continue funding parks and recreation, library services, housing assistance and other important services. We could also look into the feasibility of using school facilities after hours in place of building new community centers. We could enhance programs to develop community leadership. I’d like to hear more input from citizens as to ‘other projects’ to fund.
George Subasavage: The ACC museum might be nice but like the coliseum, we do not need to promote events. I believe the city should sell the coliseum. It accounts for $11 million a year in our city budget. I previously told the N&R that I would endorse a referendum. However, I would need a full accounting of the almost $7 million spent on the International Civil Rights Museum to endorse a bond referendum for additional spending.
Don Vaughan (incumbent): The city council has and must take a pro-active role in downtown Greensboro in areas such as maintenance of the new downtown park and street and sidewalk improvements. We should place on bond referendums for the voters to decide major spending projects such as major coliseum improvements, the International Civil Rights Museum and the Atlantic Coast Conference Hall of Champions.
Dianne Bellamy-Small (incumbent): At this point our budget is very tight. Any funds we spend I would not consider discretionary. The coliseum is an investment in this community that generates income. The downtown park will be an access to the revitalization of downtown. To my knowledge, no funds have been committed to the [International Civil Rights Museum] or to an ACC museum.
Charles Dayton Coffey: Crack cocaine is a problem in Greensboro. Methamphetamine is becoming more common. Experts say that methamphetamine is more addictive than crack. Most of the crimes committed are drug related and are means to support drug addiction. I want to build a drug rehabilitation center that is free for the poor and is totally discreet. I believe there are good people out there who simply took a step in the wrong direction. We should help them.
Luther T. Falls Jr.: I support the coliseum because it’s owned by the city and it’s a major revenue source. I also support the International Civil Rights Museum because that is an international tourist attraction, which will generate significant revenue for the city. We have a lot of seniors in the district and I would be interested in looking at new options for seniors.
Lewis Byers: Other parts of the city need some attention too. Help the growth of the city equally in all parts of the city.
Toni Graves Henderson: All the opportunities that you mentioned are important to this community; the ACC museum and the International Civil Rights Museum connect to the history of our community. The downtown park can be a wonderful community meeting place. I’d like to hear more of what the community has to say about our opportunities.
Goldie Wells: I am in favor of spending discretionary taxpayer dollars for all the projects because they are all assets to our city.
Ed Whitfield: All of these can be reasonable uses of tax dollars, within the context of meeting our communities most basic needs for parks and recreation, libraries and city upkeep of streets, lighting, etc. I am sure that the constituencies who support these projects overlap and are all part of the city. I would deal with the amounts within the context of looking at the city budget as a whole.
Tom Phillips: The first place ‘discretionary’ taxpayer dollars should go is back to the taxpayers. We need to make sure our services are at the levels our citizens expect and that our facilities are well maintained. Parks, whether downtown or in neighborhoods need to be maintained and our coliseum is a valuable asset that needs to be kept in good condition. The ACC Hall of Fame and the Civil Rights Museum need to be funded privately.
Mike Barber: (No response)
Joseph W. Rahenkamp Sr.: I would have to see the whole plan. What might be today might be a different tomorrow.
Put [the International Civil Rights Museum] before the people and let ’em vote in a referendum.
The coliseum is a loss leader but I think it’s very beneficial to the city. I think they ought to do away with charging for parking.
I would have to have more information about [the ACC museum].
Janet M. Wallace: After essential services are provided and there are monies that could be used for other projects, then these monies should be spent on items that will enhance the quality of life for all Greensboro residents and items that could increase our tax base. New residents and businesses coming into the area or visitors are welcome and provide increases in our tax base.
Sandy Carmany (incumbent): All these contribute to Greensboro’s ‘quality of life’ ‘— a key factor in citizens’ satisfaction as well as economic development decisions.
I don’t support covering the operating costs of the ACC museum.
Let’s lower the deficit at the coliseum, but acknowledge the $50 million+ it generates in local businesses.
International Civil Rights Museum: Citizens should decide on public funding of construction in a referendum.
Downtown park: It is appropriate for the city to contribute to routine maintenance.
Angela Epps Carmichael: (No response)
Todd Schmidt: I believe major projects like the ACC museum, the coliseum, and the International Civil Rights Museum could be put onto a ballot initiative, and I would like people in my district to decide if they support that spending. I do believe that improvements to the coliseum and the International Civil Rights Museum would add much to Greensboro culturally and economically.
– Compiled by Jordan Green