1101 N. Elm St., No. 704
Incumbent or challenger: Challenger
Date of birth: 65
Campaign website or blog: www.julielaphamforcitycouncil.com
Occupation and employer: Consultant, Themis Institute
Previous elective experience: None
Civic volunteer experience (including service on city commissions and boards):. Impact
Education (highest degree attained and name of institution): Doctorate, Union Institute,
Party registration: Democrat (nonpartisan race)
What is the city and state of your birth?
Paid consultants working on your campaign: None
Your campaign manager(s): Linda Waddell and Betsey Baun
Your treasurer: Miranda Bridges
Remarks from Sept. 22 candidate forum:
Good evening, everyone. I’d like to take a couple seconds just to thank Sharon Hightower, Ralph Johnson and the gang for putting these forums on. This is a great thing. And I’d like to thank all of you, who came out here in the rain and attended. Because ultimately all of us tonight, including the mayor’s race, you’re going to choose three at-large members and one district rep. We’re here to represent you, the people, not us. So we have to be good listeners. We have to know where to go to listen to people. That’s not easy in this town. This town has got lots of little bubbles all over the place. There’s lots of little — professional folks, business folks, all over. Listening is an absolutely crucial piece for what happens on city council. Otherwise we would have done it all by now. Basically, we don’t like change. We talk about it, but it’s mighty hard to adapt to. We’re in a world today where we need to adapt to change.
If elected, what would you do to ensure that there is balanced economic growth and development across the various segments of the city?
If elected, I would simply pledge to you that I would do just that. The question, then, becomes how do we do that? And the how part has to do with whether there are economic development opportunities presenting themselves. It has to do with asking the people who live in the 1st, 2nd districts what exactly it is that they want, and listening to them instead of telling them what they need, which I think is a kind of unique and different way of looking at things. But basically, economic development is going to be required in this area, in this region, across the region. We have lost thousands of jobs. This recession is not going to come back quickly. We’re going to be looking at three, four, five, six years of step-by-step process to do some really smart thinking and smart, responsible growth.
Members of the sitting council have recently clashed over the proper relationship between the council and the city manager. What, in your view, is the proper role of each of these important entities?
Greensboro, along with many, many other cities, not only in North Carolina, but across the country of this size — 250,000-350,000 people — generally has a manager-city council form of government. I believe the transition number is somewhere around three-quarters of a million when a mayor becomes full time, and that changes the entire structure. But at the moment we have a city manager as being the individual who responds to city council, and listens to the policy, and gets the things done. I think if we did things that way we might be better off today. Micro-managing is not something that I believe city council should be tinkering with. It’s in opposition to the policymaking body that they are designed to be part of. I think that’s added to our friction over the last couple of years, not made it go away too quickly.
Would you vote the way your constituents want you to or would you vote your conscience?
My hope would be that the two would be in one accord, but I’m sure there will be examples when they wouldn’t be in one accord. As a city council representative, that’s exactly what I believe I am — a representative. I represent the people, and that’s all the people of Greensboro. And so it requires me to, number one, listen to the people of Greensboro to find out precisely what they want on any particular issue, but then to carry that into the city council and into the voting process.
Do you feel the city should have a public campaign fund so that candidates who are less wealthy and less well connected can still afford to consider public service?
The short answer to that question is, yes. The long answer is, that’s not all we need to do to level the playing field. When you talk about leveling the playing field, it’s not all about money. It’s also about endorsements. It’s also about groups. It’s also about who you know. It’s how you know. It’s how to get the trainings, how to get good leaders and expose them to all the elements that are required to move up the ladder into becoming maybe a board member at the beginning, go through the [City] Academy, as Marikay Abuzuaiter mentioned. But there are many things to do to get, quote, political training to come into city council. We need to look at a broad brush stroke of what citizens need to get themselves ready for city council. Money’s not the only piece, but it certainly goes a long way towards it.
The complaint review committee investigates complaints against police officers. Would you be in favor of giving this citizen panel subpoena authority to interview witnesses? Why or why not?
Yes. There’s absolutely no reason to have a citizen review board without having subpoena power, period.
Would you be in favor of reopening the White Street Landfill to household waste?
The short answer to the question is, no, I would not vote to reopen the White Street Landfill. It amazes me how quickly issues get developed and why. I think that’s the bigger question. Where do these questions come from, who says them and why, and what’s the timing about. It seems to be more political mumbo-jumbo than anything else. I think it’s atrocious to upset the group of people deliberately and intentionally. You can tell I’m getting excited about this. I don’t like it. It’s not necessary. But let me say something else about White Street. Because I think greening technology has gotten us to a point where we can look at some alternatives in terms of how to deal with trash. Production of methane and bio-fuels are being explored by lots and lots of other cities around the country. And I think we need to do that. Whether we need to have a trash entity in White Street or whether we need to move something out, say, near the airport. How’s that? Start a campaign to move it out near the airport. Move it someplace else. And let’s see what happens in terms of discussion. But basically, there are many, many opportunities that we can enact to not only get rid of that trash, and maybe convert it into a park, but also it might be a cost-saving feature as well.
I’d like to thank you all for staying with us all evening. And I’d like to say that there’s a report that was issued from a company called Discovery Learning. They’re actually from Greensboro. And what they said in that report was that the top 10 in-demand jobs were not on the drawing board five years ago. That’s how fast we’re changing. Think about that. The top 10 in-demand jobs — that’s in nanotechnology, community health, logistics and transportation — were not even thought of five years ago because our world is changing so fast. We’re not even ready for what’s coming next year, or the year after, or five years from now. And change is something that’s very difficult for us to handle; we like things the way they were. But we kind of have to accommodate both ends. We’ve got to deal with the change. We’ve got to look for our future. I hope you’ll vote for me.
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