Marikay Abuzuaiter

by Yes Weekly Election Coverage

Residential address: Brassfield Oaks Drive (map)

Incumbent or challenger? Challenger

Age: 57

Campaign website or blog: Facebook (link)

Endorsements: Dorothy Brown, Carolina Peacemaker, Greensboro Police Officers Association, Guilford County Community PAC, Muslims for a Better North Carolina, Occupy Greensboro Media Group, Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro and YES! Weekly

Occupation and employer: Owner, Mahi’s restaurant, co-owner, curb markets andapartments

Previous electiveexperience (including election campaigns): Candidate for at-large seat on council in 2007 and 2009

Civic and volunteerexperience (including service on city commissions and boards): Vice-chair (2010-2011), Greensboro Human RelationsCommission, chair of the International Advisory Committee, member ofMontgomery/Wells Housing Committee; charter member of LYFE (Love, Youth, Faithand Empowerment) anti-gang initiative, member, Concerned Citizens of NortheastGreensboro; member, East Market Merchants Association; member, GreensboroLandlords Association; graduate, Greensboro Citizens Academy; graduate, IMPACTGreensboro; member, International Refugee Task Force; member, League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad; volunteer,Greensboro Neighborhood Congress; member, Citizens for Economic and Environmental Justice

Education (highest degreeattained and name of institution): Bachelor’sdegree, Greensboro College

Party registration: Democrat (nonpartisancontest)

Where were you born? Plant City, Fla.

What year did you move toGreensboro? 1972

Paid consultants workingon your campaign: None

Campaign manager: Jo Isler

Treasurer: PaulStutts

Do you favor or oppose reopening the White Street Landfill forhousehold waste, beyond the small amount of sewer sludge currently accepted?Briefly explain your position.

I oppose opening the White Street Landfill and have been adamant aboutthis for years. How can we as a cityjustify having a dump located close to the center of our city? After reviewingand researching all aspects of the White Street Landfill the only conclusion isthat the landfill is a detriment to enticing economic development to theeastern part of our city – who would want to live or bring businesses to anarea that will be overrun with traffic, vermin and the possibility of anenvironmental disaster? What about the due diligence of several of our currentcity council members in listening to the concerns of the citizens? Healthconcerns, environmental, racial and traffic concerns have not been addressed. Wemust think regionally and technology-based for our municipal solid wasteconcerns!

Where do you stand on the “strong manager” form of city government andwhy?

The strong manager form of government was implemented to ensure thatour city is run by a qualified professional whose knowledge and expertise wouldoversee the daily running of our city. I support this concept implicitly!Several members of our current council are trying to micro-manage ourdepartments and I see good, professional city employees with years of experiencedeciding to leave or retire. If the council believes that the city manager isdoing an exceptional job (which they just expressed recently), then they shouldlet him do his job!

Should the city of Greensboroplace more or less emphasis on maintaining a healthy water and sewer fund toplan for future growth? Why or why not?

The city should place more emphasis on maintaining a healthywater/sewer fund! Our water and sewer infrastructure is in dire straits and inorder to entice new businesses we must have top-notch infrastructure in place.We have had roadways collapsing due to antiquated water and sewer lines – thisis not an attraction to bring new businesses to Greensboro! Also, I do not believe water ratesshould have been reduced 6 percent by city council. Those funds should havebeen saved for needed repairs and emergency repairs.

The city’s tax base has remained flat for the past two years in a row,and the foreclosure crisis continues unabated. As a member of city council, howwould you balance the need to fund services such as police patrol, fireprotection and park maintenance that citizens care about with the reality thatthe revenue picture remains bleak?

I believe council must find common ground to entice businesses to Greensboro which will certainlyincrease our tax base. Having “site ready” tracts developed has seemed to workwell for other cities in attracting new businesses. We also need to retain thebusinesses that are currently in operation in Greensboro. I have seen firsthand the closingof many good small businesses which, of course, affects our tax base. We mustalso put faith in the city manager’s ability to implement the city’s MAP planwhich lists five goals for our city – the fifth one being fiscal stewardshipand accountability to ensure efficiency in all city departments.

Do you believe that city staff deserves council support to implement aprogram to spend federal grant money to improve the energy efficiency ofresidences and businesses, or does this program warrant additional oversightfrom council? Briefly explain your position.

Council must support city staff in implementation of the federal energyefficiency grant! I do not believe thatthis program needs additional oversight from council. The original intent ofthe federal energy grant was two-fold: to heighten the awareness of energyefficiency in eastern Greensborowhere it is sorely needed and to enhance the viability of attracting newbusiness to the area. With energy efficient accomplishments in place it couldactually attract business to an area of Greensborothat has been neglected for economic growth and with the implementation of thegrant the jobs created would be a boon to those starting businesses and seekingjobs in the “green” sector.

How would you assess the value and effectiveness of Greensboro’s Rental Unit Certificate ofOccupancy program, which is now prohibited by state law?

I was a member of the Montgomery/Wells Housing Committee of the HumanRelations Commission which prepared a resolution in support of RUCO. While itwas tabled at the council meeting and ultimately prohibited by state law. Shouldthere be any other form of inspection process in the future, I believe that allstakeholders who are interested in making Greensboro’srental community better should have a seat at the table.

How should the impasse over management and operation of the GreensboroFarmers Curb Market be resolved?

In answering this – the decision was just made at the last councilmeeting – I would certainly hope that the character and those vendors involvedin the farmers market are all allowed to have a “say” in how it isoperated. The market is a valuable assetto our community and draws our community closer in many respects.

What, if anything, should be done to resolve racial tensions, and toenhance professionalism, integrity and fairness within the Greensboro PoliceDepartment?

Open dialogue and respect for all citizens is a “must” in any citydepartment and especially in law enforcement. I truly believe that morevisibility in the community at forums and community events will ensure that arespectful dialogue will fall into place. I have personally witnessed morerelationship building with the police department and feel that the more thepolice department partners with citizens, the better our city willbenefit. As chair of the InternationalAdvisory Committee, we are partnering with the police department to addressconcerns from our international community. Everyone must feel safe and secureas a resident and in their rights as residents.

What would you change about Greensboro’sland use patterns if the decision were yours to make? Please answer thequestion in terms of places people live, work and shop, in terms of the modesof transportation people use to get from point to point and the vitality ofneighborhoods and commercial corridors?

If it were my decision – I would listen to what the citizens want tosee in land use patterns. The 2025 comprehensive plan was developed by a groupof citizens who have a vision of what our city should look like in 2025. Theyhope to see neighborhoods go back to the “sense of community” where all canlive, work and play. Reduction of urban sprawl and connectivity in areas oftransportation were of utmost concern. Quality of life in Greensboro is a right that every residentshould have the opportunity to obtain. By listening to residents whether in theComprehensive Plan or by current community input is a must for anyone seeking acouncil seat.

What is Greensboro’sgreatest asset? What is Greensboro’smost pressing problem?

Greensboro’s greatest asset is its residents! We arelucky to have such a diverse citizenry with talents, knowledge and expertisethat we must allow to grow and be nurtured. There are so many residents who arewilling to serve on boards and commission to volunteer their time and talentsto make Greensboroan exemplary city. Unfortunately, those appointments are sometimes madepolitically instead of what might be best for our city.

Our most pressing problem is the lack of jobs and economic developmentthat several on the current council promised in their campaigns. Our povertyand unemployment rates are increasing daily and we need to work quickly anddiligently to get our residents back to work. For this to be accomplished, we musthave “site-ready” development to entice companies to locate their businesses inGreensboro It is also imperative that we not “forget” those businesses largeand small who are struggling to “stay” in business in these hard economictimes.

Articles about this candidate:

Danny Thompson’s specious landfill numbers (link)

Greensboro primary: at-large analysis (link)

Mayoral challenger Perkins swamps incumbent Knight (link)’ ‘ 

Campaign website exaggerates discussion of restaurant tax (link)

A&T vote inspires fiery city council campaigning (link)

2011 primary election endorsement & voter guide (link)

Candidates take message to east Greensboro voters (link)’ ‘ 

At-large candidates in Greensboro municipal election struggle to differentiate themselves (link)’ 

Campaign trail: Jim Kee kickoff (link)

Northeast Greensboro council incumbent challenges the challengers (link)

Campaign season underway in Greensboro municipal elections (link)

Candidate profile: Marikay Abuzuaiter (link)

Landfill fight estranges human relations commission from council (link)

Human relations commission to weigh in on landfill (link)