Mike Martin, District 4 candidate
Residential address: 3005 Shady Lawn Drive, 27408
Incumbent or challenger? (Open seat)
Campaign website or blog: http://goodstewardgso.blogspot.com/
Occupation and employer: Retired, Guilford Mills; consultant for a polyurethane foam company
Previous elective experience (including election campaigns): None
Civic and volunteer experience (including service on city commissions and boards): Counselor to Church of Latter Day Saints bishop for five years on welfare issues; picking up litter
Education (highest degree attained and name of institution): Graduate, Amos Alonzo Stagg High School; coursework at UNCG and GTCC
Party registration: “Moderate to conservative Democrat”
What is the city and state of your birth? Cape Girardeau, Mo.
If not Greensboro, what year did you move here? 1977
Paid consultants working on your campaign: None
Your campaign manager(s): Self
Your treasurer: Self
Remarks from Sept. 8 candidate forum:
Introductory statement My name is Mike Martin, and I’ve lived here in Greensboro for 32 years. I’ve worked here in Greensboro, raised three daughters and I want to bring a business perspective to the city of Greensboro. I feel like this city can be ran with a balanced budget, and the money can be utilized a lot better than it is now. There was some talk about the landfill. That’s one subject I’ve been discussing. I visited the landfill on two occasions, talked to the manager out there. We’re actually spending $5.4 million on a transfer station sending our waste to Montgomery County. Another $4 million to send it to Montgomery County to process it. So a little over $9 million. The landfill has four years of usage if we send all of our household waste to that landfill. You could save $36 million. Also, I feel like the small businesses, there needs to be better opportunity and eliminate fear for people who want to start small businesses. We have a lot of colleges, a lot of college students in this town. And I think a lot of these students are leaving us. And we need to find a way to put them to work in this city. Thank you. Would you ever support a tax increase in order to provide improved public services? It’s been another issue that I’ve had some discussions about, done some research on, based on the data that I’ve collected. And I’ve supplied George, another candidate up here, with this information. If you look at the top 10 cities in Greensboro [SIC] by population, Greensboro has the highest tax rate. Now, one thing I think you’ve got to do to compare apples to apples and not with oranges is look at the last county tax reevaluation, and what I identified was when the last one was. If you look at those cities, and Greensboro has the highest tax rate of any of those top-ten cities. Winston-Salem, for example, is about 16 cents less compared to Greensboro. Greensboro’s tax rate is .635. Winston-Salem’s, I believe, is .45. I’ve got that data on my website. I think that we should be looking at reducing taxes, and looking at where waste is. I still think there’s a lot of waste. There’s a city planning group. And the police department. And seeing where there’s duplication of jobs. Thank you. How would you be accountable to constituents? It’s what I’ve been doing for the last two days, and I’ve got a pair of sore feet to prove it out. What I’ve been doing for the last two days is going door to door, handing out my cards, talking to people, asking them what their biggest concern was and basically sharing my thoughts on how I think this city should be represented. The biggest concern that I found with citizens is the lack of information. Rezoning is a big issue. A lot of people were not aware of this citywide rezoning. At the last city council meeting there was a city council member and that person wasn’t aware of some of the information on how information was supplied to the citizens. We’ve got to make it easier for citizens to look at information the city supplies, and clearly understand it. [Someone] made a comment. And he said, “I want to be able to take that back to my 12 year old, and explain it.” So you’ve got to have bullet points out there, and share this information with the citizens and not have amendments and a lot of information out there that’s very difficult to comprehend. What would you do to help bring more jobs to the area, as well as promote the growth of small businesses? And how would you help the MWBEs, the minority- and women-owned business enterprises? Small businesses, I think the first thing that I would do as a city councilman is to activate the groups within the city and work with these schools. There are more students in this community than there are in Chapel Hill. And a lot of them are leaving this city. And I think they need to understand what opportunities they have in this city, and how the city can make it easy for them to start new jobs. And to share information with them and take some of the fear away that they may have in starting new businesses. This is a global economy. Greensboro’s not competing with Raleigh. I mean, it’s competing with Daejeon, in Korea for jobs. And we’ve got to be able to be able to put our head back and look forward, and have a vision of where we’re going to go. Then, work with the citizens here and these young, bright women and men coming out of these schools, and some of the minorities here in town, and make it easy for them to start businesses and be able to share what their knowledge is and their ability working with current corporations in town. Thank you. How do you measure the savings versus human life and the environment in the area of the White Street Landfill? I’ve made two visit out to meet with Scott Bost. He’s the manager of the landfill. He made a comment to me after I got in the truck and drove around for about an hour on my second visit out there. Construction debris and grass and tree limbs is the only thing going out there. And they had a good system as far as making compost out there. You can take a pickup truck, and for twenty dollars pick up the best compost I think you’ve ever head. I believe that, he told me, he says, “You know, I’ve had the Sierra Club come out here. And they patted me on the back and told me it was one of the best-kept and -run landfills that they’d seen. The other thing is that there is methane gas coming from this landfill. And right now it’s going to Wilbur Ross industries. They only use 45 percent of it. There’s 55 percent still left. Right now, with the contract the city has with them, that methane gas is burned up. It’s not able to be used for any incentive for any other company here. There’s a city, Aurora, Illinois, that uses it to fuel city schools. Now, the company I used to work for, has an operation — Guilford Mills — has an operation. They have what they call “tri-fuel option,” with natural gas, oil or methane gas. If you use methane gas, you save three-quarters, or $750,000. $750,000 is a good incentive to bring companies here. Basically, with the way the manager at that landfill, who’s a graduate at State, tells me — he’s an engineer — “People’s garbage may stink, but my landfill doesn’t smell.” Thank you.
What are your big plans for Greensboro? I think the first thing is we should look — if you were to work for any corporation, the first thing is safety. And walking around the city, that’s the first thing citizens are concerned about. They’re concerned about their safety. The other thing is sharing information, knowing what’s going on in this city. There’s a lot of people that don’t know what’s going on. And somehow this city needs to have some type of transparency and some type of communication on a level that the citizens understand what’s going on. I envision it — and I’ve worked with a lot of IS managers — to where you can go to the Greensboro website, press “landfill” and you’ll get information. You can push a button, talk about rezoning, and you can get an update — clear, precise understanding of what’s going on with rezoning…. And the other thing is getting jobs here. Knowing you have to compete globally for jobs. And having settings for these young people coming out of these colleges to know they have an opportunity to start a business here, and that they have an opportunity to work with other corporations. And the city’s going to take the fear out of trying to start your own business here in Greensboro. Thank you.
What can we do to make our city a safer place — to reduce crime, drug addiction, vacant housing, homelessness and panhandling? I think that positions need to be based on data, not hunches or feelings, and based on where the crimes are actually happening. You’re going to have to send a certain number of patrol cars, police, people that are willing to talk with the citizens and get those citizens working together along with the police to resolve some of these issues. The police can’t cruise through the city and think that’s going to resolve the issues. The citizens have to work with the police department and be a strong group, and basically say no to crime. Again, it’s the city of Greensboro, the police department working with the citizens, and the citizens standing up fighting crime in this city.
Closing statement I’ve lived here, in this city, for 32 years. I’ve got five of my six grandchildren living here, the oldest being 10 years old. There’s a good chance that they’ll live a good portion of their life here in this city. And they mean an awful lot to me. I want this city to be the city that they can grow up in, it will be a safe city for them, and they’ll be able to work and live in this city. That’s what’s really important to me. And my business experience, I’ve worked on budgets. I’ve negotiated contracts for companies here in the US, Dow Chemical, companies in Germany. I’ve worked on group to work towards a compromise, to establish businesses in Mexico. I believe that you’ve got to make decisions based on data…. One councilman from one district said that he needs two police officers in that town. And then the other council member said, “Well, if you get two, I’ve got two.” There again, if you need two then you work that out. Same thing with transit: If you need a better bus service with more routes then you’ve got to make that decision to get better bus service and more bus service. But if you do, we’ve got to understand, where are you going to take it from? You’ve got to look at your data and see where the lowest amount of city riders are, and you’re going to have to take something from them. You’re going to have to work within a budget. I’m running for city council in District 4. And I’m asking for your vote. Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you. You all have a good evening. Thank you.
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