Never too soon

by staff

It’s never too soon to start handicapping the next election — we’ve been talking about this one practically from the moment the last one ended — though it is possible to start writing about it prematurely. But since, in Greensboro, at least, an early picture is starting to take shape, it bears some discussion.

The big story is up top, in the mayoral race. Incumbent Robbie Perkins is a savvy politician, and he’s anxious to create a legacy. He’ll be running again, though he’s plagued by a recent bankruptcy filing and emerging details of his divorce.

We maintain that though the divorce in itself is not particularly newsworthy, the bankruptcy is, especially in light of Perkins’ pet project, the downtown performing arts center, for which he’s managed to get placed a $20 million bond issue on a May special-election ballot. It forces us to make an observation: Maybe this guy’s not so good with money.

It will be interesting to see his approach to the race against current at-large Council woman Nancy Vaughan

It will be interesting to see his approach to the race against current at-large Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan, who has announced her run for mayor. She’s also a skilled player, with citywide popularity and an insider’s grasp of the way power works.

It will also be remarkable to see the effect of the candidacy of George Hartzman, a Greensboro investment banker-turned-whis tleblower and digital activist who has declared his intention to run. He’s convinced we’re all on the take — pretty sure that includes us here at YES! Weekly — and he should draw a few disgruntled voters from both sides in the primary.

Vaughan’s candidacy opens up the at-large race, where surely Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson and Marikay Abuzuaiter will run again. Johnson has a strong coalition of voters across the city, but Abuzuaiter beat Chris Lawyer for her seat in 2011 by just under 1,000 votes, and her reputation as a community activist took a hit when YES! Weekly discovered police e-mails naming her as a confidential informant. The third seat generally goes to a conservative, and because we don’t see Danny Thompson making a return to local politics anytime soon, it seems Lawyer might be able to slide in if he’s so inclined. Another veteran who’s been making appearances in the at-large rumor mill is former Guilford County Commissioner Paul Gibson, who could pick up some of the progressive vote.

Nancy Hoffmann, initially rumored to be eyeing an at-large seat, will stay put in District 4 for now. Just 350 or so votes separated her from incumbent Mary Rakestraw in 2011, but Hoffmann’s been a fairly high-profile councilor since taking office and should be able to up her percentages against a challenger. But there’s always the specter of Mike Barber, who lives in D-4. If he decides to run, he may go for an at-large seat.

Jim Kee says he’ll run again in District 2, though there’s been some buzz about a run for Rep. Mel Watt’s US House seat if Watt is approved to take the presidential appointment as head of the Federal Housing Financing Agency.

Either way, he’s got a challenger in Jamal Fox, a recent NC A&T University grad who’s doing what we hope so many young people do upon graduation: stick around and try to make a difference.

There’s more: Zack Matheny may or may not have a few irons in the fire, but unless something breaks it seems he’ll be game to defend his District 3 seat against any challengers. Wilkins looks safe, though a District 5 opponent could arise in the coming months. And as for Dianne Bellamy-Small in District 1, her city-wide detractors seem to ignite her base — with a minimal war chest, she beat her challenger DJ Hardy in 2011 by almost 3,000 votes. She’s the closest we have to a sure thing on the whole slate.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration .