Picarelli joins the District 3 contest for Greensboro City Council

by Jeff Sykes

Photo by James Piedad courtesy of Michael Picarelli

An expected third candidate joined the race to replacelongtime District 3 council member Zack Matheny on the Greensboro City Council. Michael Picarelli, a member of the cityand state human relations commissions and a former leader of the GuilfordCounty Republican Party, entered the race on Friday just before the noon filingdeadline.

Picarelli spent two years as executive director of thecounty GOP, and two more years as its elected chairman, and says that beinginvolved in the political process has helped him develop an ear for listeningto what matters to voters. He serves on the Greensboro Human RelationsCommission as a vice-chair and as chair of its education committee. Gov. PatMcCrory appointed Picarelli to the state HRC last year.

Picarelli said that economic development and public safetywill be key points of his campaign, but he also acknowledged that electedleaders need work harder to improve race relations in the city. A first step,he said, is for more discussion to take place and for people to spend more timelistening to each other.

“We need to take into consideration the makeup of Greensboroand not really look at a one-size-fits-all approach,” Picarelli said during aphone interview late Friday afternoon. “We are fortunate enough that we have alot of good history here within the Civil Rights Movement. We need to turn thatinto a positive.”

Picarelli said that dialogue will create a positiveatmosphere that can improve relations and empower communities to work toward commongoals.

In terms of economic development, Picarelli believes that moreattention needs to be paid to the return on investment the city receives forits effort to bring more jobs to Greensboro. He said politicians too oftenthrow out the term “economic development” with no effort to quantify the issue.Picarelli, who is a regional manager for Grande Cheese Company, said hisexperience in the food and beverage industry has given him insights into howother cities recruit and retain hospitality industry jobs. He cited the City ofAsheville as an example of how a city uses its culinary and cultural assets tobuild a booming economy.

Picarelli said that building a good tax base that supportsrobust services for citizens is important. He emphasized that being a goodsteward of public money helps to create a high quality of life for Greensbororesidents.

“We’ve got to be smart with what we do and consider ourreturn on investment on growth,” he said. “We need to be able to be smart andgrow inside specific sectors.”

Picarelli has been married to his wife Toni for 15 years.The couple has two children, ages 13 and 11. He emphasized that he intends torun a positive campaign that’s focused on the issues and what each candidatebrings to the table.

He said he hopes to be a consensus builder, focusing on hislistening skills and the reputation he has built for problem solving.

“It’s a hard task to have, but you have to have those thatwant to put their ego in place and listen to what the voters want to say,” Picarellisaid.