Retired professor takes first crack at politics in District 5

by Jordan Green

Art Boyett, a political newcomer, is matched up with a steely political veteran, Trudy Wade, in the race to represent District 5 on Greensboro City Council.

Boyett cornered Guilford County Commissioner John Parks at a recent reception held for political candidates by the Triad Real Estate & Building Industries Coalition, and asked him what it would take to beat Wade. Parks was denied the ability to take his seat on the county commission for more than a year after winning his 2004 election while the courts considered Wade’s appeal.

“I told him I didn’t know,” Parks said.

“Campaign hard.” Boyett, a retired Guilford College accounting professor, has been far more visible than Wade, who missed candidate forums hosted by the Guilford County Unity Effort, the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress and the Greensboro Partnership. Boyett said he waited until October to begin canvassing his neighborhoods because with the race featuring only two candidates he didn’t want to confuse voters considering that his name was not on the primary ballot. In a district whose lines were significantly redrawn last year, Boyett has focused most of his efforts in the northwest end near Piedmont Triad International Airport and campaigned little if at all in the less affluent southeast section that hugs High Point Road.

Boyett acknowledged that it’s hard to determine whether he has made significant inroads with voters.

Not that he hasn’t been studying and thinking about the issues that affect District 5.

“This district is diverse,” Boyett said.

“You’ve got the northern and western part of the district that’s fairly affluent. You’ve got a lot of retired people certainly with the two Friends homes. You’ve got the southeast part below

I-40 that’s less affluent. You’ve got High Point Road that has sort of fallen into disrepair, and we need to bring that back…. Then you’ve got the airport out here. If what people are telling us is true, that is a gold mine. We’ve got to get the infrastructure in place and get the zoning right so that you don’t have residential areas being built where there’s going to be a lot of noise. You’ve got people still fussing about noise on the Urban Loop. For most of my district the Urban Loop has already been built so it’s primarily a noise issue.”

Boyett has said that he is only talking about himself and not his opponent in this campaign, but in a recent interview he took a critical stance against the current council’s handling of information, particularly with the ongoing police controversy and the hiring of the new city manager. He said he believes the current council has interpreted personnel protection law too broadly.

“What you have to go into closed session about is more limited than some people think,” he said. “If you’re talking in general about a position or what the requirements of the position are, that doesn’t need to be done in closed session. When it has to be in closed session is when someone has done something wrong, and you have to take action. It would seem like in terms of personnel the only thing the council would have to have in closed session is taking some sort of action against the city manager.”

Boyett said he didn’t see the necessity of a recent closed-session meeting to discuss a decision by former interim city manager Bob Morgan to reinstate police Officer AJ Blake that angered several council members.

“I don’t know all the details about that officer, but it’s my understanding that there was a procedure, and that was meticulously followed,” the candidate said.

“It’s called due process of law,” Boyett continued. “If either side feels they weren’t treated right, they can appeal. Some people are saying the fact that the city manager overturned the chief’s decision was a bad reflection on the chief. I don’t see it that way…. It’s sort of like the Supreme Court. Sometimes you like the ruling and sometimes you don’t, but you don’t overturn the process.”

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