Obama-inspired candidate runs at-large from SE Greensboro
DJ Hardy’sfaith inpolitics wasrestoredwhen hecanvassedfor BarackObamain eastGreensborolast year.The 33-year-old works as afinancial analyst for a chemical companyin High Point, but lives in a section ofGreensboro’s Ole Asheboro neighborhoodthat is challenged by crime and deterioratingproperties.He’s identified a handful of precinctsin east Greensboro with high voter registrationbut historically low turnout inmunicipal primaries, which he’ll be targeting.He also plans to reach out to voters inprecincts where Obama ran strongly.“For obvious reasons,” he said. “Wehave a lot in common. I was raised by mygrandma. I’m biracial. I have two daughters.My wife is African-American. I don’thave a law degree. I guess that’s where thesimilarities end.”Hardy is one of three at-large candidatesthat live in districts 1 and 2, which arepredominantly African-American. At-largerepresentatives on council have tended tocome more from affluent sections of northand northwest Greensboro. Hardy is astrong supporter of his district representative,Dianne Bellamy-Small (“She epitomizeswhat it means to represent a district.She knows her constituents, keeps in touchwith them and tries to find solutions totheir problems.”), but he gives props toone of her opponents, Ben Holder, whohas been waging a campaign to get thecity to address three dilapidated houses inGlenwood.“One of those houses is about to fallover,” Hardy said. “If that sort of stuffwas happening in District 3 or District 4it would be taken care of. It’s not a racialthing. It seems to be tied to some sort ofpsychology that that’s the way it’s alwaysbeen.“The direct cost of having a propertylike that is it depresses property values,”Hardy continued. “Revenue to the city istied to property values. Sure, it will costthe city [to knock down the houses], butit’s already costing the city. It’s affectinghis neighbors, and creating safe housesfor nefarious activities, which ties up thepolice.”In the same spirit, he opposes reopeningthe White Street Landfill to householdwaste.“Right now, it’s environmental racism,”he said. “We really have to be consciousabout decisions that at least play into raceon a perception level. I don’t think thefinancial argument is strong enough whenthere are questions about health and safetythat are unanswered.”On economic development, his thinkingaligns with a current trend that transcendsconservative and liberal ideologies. Hesaid he has read parts of the Connections2025 comprehensive plan, and researchcompiled by Action Greensboro and theGreensboro Partnership, and concludedthat the city needs to shift its emphasisfrom incentivizing large corporations toproviding tax breaks to small, local businesses,and should even consider reducingproperty taxes and sales taxes.“If these companies are not based inGreensboro, their profits go elsewhere,”he said. “If things go bad, these ownerswill make a decision to cut jobs. It createsa vacuum. It creates a situation where youhave a lot of people who are underemfaith ployed. That creates a cascading effect where you have more competitionfor lowskill jobs. That’s where you get the threeand-a-half-percenthigher unemployment than Raleigh.” Hardy described his viewson the roiling police controversy with uncommon candor. He said hefavors a full airing of the facts and making appropriate amends, evenif it weakens the city’s hand vis-Ã -vis the many black police officerswho are suing for alleged discrimination. “As long as myresponsibility to the citizens is not in conflict with the institution[of the city], then I’m okay,” he said. “But when the two are inconflict, then I have to go with the citizens. Some council members errby referring to government as ‘we’ and the citizens as ‘them.’ I have aphilosophy that requires justice to come first, and then fiduciaryresponsibility.”Look for the star to signify our Triad-wide election coverage. Visit www.triadpolitics.info for more coverage.