Ryan Shell, at-large candidate
Residential address: 460 Arlington St., 27406 Incumbent or challenger: Challenger Age: 30 Campaign website or blog: http://voteshell.com Occupation and employer: Marketer, Truliant Federal Credit Union Previous elective experience (including election campaigns): None Civic and volunteer experience (including service on city commissions and boards): Member, Greensboro Board of Adjustments; president, Southside Homeowners Association; member, Southside Community Watch; founder, Greensboro Community Watch; blogger, GreensboroPolitics.com; participant, Adopt-a-Street; 2008 graduate, City Academy; 2009-2010 participant, Impact Greensboro Education (highest degree attained and name of institution): Bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing, UNCG Party registration: Democrat (nonpartisan contest) What is the city and state of your birth? Winston-Salem If not Greensboro, what year did you move here? 2000 Paid consultants working on your campaign: Bill Burckley Campaign manager(s): Alisha Wielfaert Treasurer: Myself, for the time being.
Remarks from Sept. 22 candidate forum:
My name’s Ryan Shell. I’ve lived in Greensboro for about ten and a half years. I’ve lived in downtown and Southside for about four and a half years. That’s a District 2 community; I don’t know if you’re aware of that or not. One thing that I hope you do when you go to cast a vote this year for city council, don’t look at what we’re gonna do. Look at what we’ve done. I’ve adopted three streets in this city, two of which, Lee Street, Eugene to Bennett, all of Phillips Avenue. I’ve had trash cans put out there. Doesn’t it sound kind of crazy to have roads in Greensboro where there’s no trash cans? I’ve fought and will continue to fight to get additional bus stops, er bus shelters at our bus stops. I serve on the Greensboro Board of Adjustments. I head up my neighborhood homeowners association. I work with closely with [District 2 candidate] Nettie [Coad] in Ole Asheboro. I’m a guy that gets things done. Best of all, I’ve talked to a massive amount of people in the community. And people say, you know what, one of the first questions they ask is, "What do you do for work?" I work for a credit union. I work in marketing and public relations. No decision that I make on the Greensboro City Council is going to make you think, "I wonder why he made that decision?" My name is Ryan Shell. My website is voteshell.com, and I really hope I have your vote this year.
If elected, what would you do to ensure that there is balanced economic growth and development across the various segments of the city?
One thing you have to do before you decide, alright, we’re gonna have some balance, you gotta understand there’s a major unbalance. I live in District 2. I play in District 2. I know what we don’t have. I know there’s no grocery stores. I know I have to go down MLK to the Food Lion, or I can go to the Friendly Center to the grocery store. I know what’s not there. At the same time, you have to focus on the western side and say, "What is there? What isn’t there?" You have to understand. You can’t just magically say, "Okay, boom, we’re just gonna have smooth economic development all across Greensboro. That might not be the pretty answer that everyone wants to hear, but you have to have a clear understanding of what we don’t have. And there’s a lot of things on the eastern side of the city we flat out don’t have. And I think I have a very clear understanding of some of the things we need. And if I don’t understand something, I’ll be really ready for you to educate me.
Do you support continued funding for the Greensboro Police Department gang enforcement unit? Why or why not?
You know, there’s different opinions on this deal. And I don’t think anyone has said, "Chief, does this department have issues? What are the efficiencies or inefficiencies with this gang unit?" One problem that I’ve heard is that the gang unit is working certain hours, and when they are not on the clock there is no one to deal with gang issues. That, in my eyes, could be a problem. I think we need to have more of our officers have a higher expertise in the gang unit. I know [fellow at-large candidate] Jorge [Cornell] has had issues. I think if we’re going to say the department has issues, or this unit of the department has issues, have an investigation. I don’t want our police department to be drug down because of a gang unit. I either want to know if it works; I want to know if it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work, can we fix it? If not, make it go away. But if it’s working, great. If it’s accusations, come to the bottom of ’em and if they’re not proved, we need to do away with accusations.
How would you have voted on the question of whether to fire the former city manager?
I’ve got to stand up. I’m like one big ball of energy. From everything that I’ve read — and everyone but Robbie’s not privy to a lot of the information — it did seem like it was time for Mitch to go. I don’t know how many people in the audience have ever been fired, and had the opportunity to keep their job for an additional six months making X-amount of money, and then you get six months of severance pay. When I fire you, you’re fired. Simple as that. Ms. Groat — it was completely inappropriate, at a business function for my employer the day they fired Mitchell Johnson, she leans over and she says, "Ryan, so I’m thinking about making a motion tonight to fire Mitchell." Asked me that the day that was going to happen. And I can’t tell you how inappropriate I thought that was. It was an employee matter, and she’s asking me, Joe citizen at the time, about firing this man. Feel free to ask her about that on your own account, but I thought it was completely inappropriate.
A recent assessment of the current state of human relations found that the residents thought Greensboro "feels like five cities, not one city" and is a segregated city where there are historical issues that have not been dealt with, that influence where people live. In your opinion, does Greensboro have a problem with housing segregation?
I don’t think it’s necessary a problem; I do think there’s a divide. Those of you in the audience, you can’t see. Right about here, there’s a clear divide in this audience. And when I’m on the council, one thing that I really want to do is to bridge that gap. Black, white, Hispanic — I don’t care what it is. There’s no community that I’m not going to go in. There’s no people that I’m not going to try to get to work together. If there is a gap — if the constituents say, "Hey, we need housing in this part of the city, then we’re going to work on that. I haven’t personally seen — I’m an avid cyclist, so I’m one of those guys that rides around with a really cool spandex outfits on — I’ve not seen huge gaps in housing and that it’s a major issue in Greensboro. If anything, I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of substandard housing, housing that is not something that I would want you, my neighbor or anyone that I know or don’t know to live in. That is a huge problem in Greensboro.
The complaint review committee investigates complaints against police officers. Would you be in favor of giving this citizen panel subpoena authority to interview witnesses? Why or why not?
Call it subpoena power, call it whatever we want. This board has got to get the answers they need. If they’re not doing that without the subpoena power, then we’re going to need to look at that. That’s going to be my answer for that question.
I want to step back real quick to the public campaign fund. I don’t know all the ins and outs of that, but I can tell you one thing: I’m going to raise less money than [fellow at-large candidate] Robbie [Perkins]. I’m going to raise less money than a lot of other people. That’s not to say that he’s good or bad for raising money. But what I can tell you is it’s not going to keep me from busting my tail from getting out and spreading the word and getting my name out as much as humanly possible. This last Saturday and Sunday I spent 15 hours knocking on doors. Nothing’s gonna hold me back. When you elect me at large, when you have an issue, there’s nothing that I’m not going to do to work to help you. And when it comes to getting elected, money is not the thing that’s going to hold me back.
Would you be in favor of reopening the White Street Landfill to household waste?
I have spoken out very loudly about the White Street Landfill, and not reopening it to its previous capacity. When the council first started bringing this up, I immediately went out knocking on doors in Nealtown Farms, uniting residents and bringing folks together. I had a news story done on Fox and WXII. I took immediate action. One thing we have to do — this process — it’s been all wrong, folks. We’ve said, "Well, we could save $400,000… we could save $9 million… we could save blah-blah-blah amount… we could reopen it for three years, five years, nine years, 50 years." No one knows. We need some facts, right? It could be three years. So we’ll get the community in arms for three years of use. What’s the plan after that? The question from here on out should be, what is Greensboro doing to plan, long term, for household waste? We’re not doing that. We do a great job skirting all around the issues. But we’ve got to worry about it because it’s not a problem that’s gonna go away. People say, "The people out there, well, you can buy ’em out and they can move. People live there. They bought homes after the fact. Kids have friends out there. We’ve built communities. All we do is talk about, let’s build communities. We built one. Let’s not tear it back apart.
I don’t have a fancy speech. I’m just a nice guy. I’m 30 years old. And I want to do everything possible to help Greensboro. I’m a fresh face. On a daily basis I’m charged with coming up with new ideas for my job. We’re in a new economic time. The same old same old doesn’t work. We’ve got people who have been on the council for nearly half my life. We’re throwing the same answers at the same problems. That doesn’t work anymore, folks. We didn’t hit on youth. One thing that I’m doing — you receive a small amount of pay when you’re on the council. I’m not a rich man, by any means. I work for a nonprofit. I’m taking $5,000 of what we receive from being on the council and I’m doing five $1,000 scholarships for youth. That’s one for each district. Remember the kid — Aug. 4 is my birthday. That’s the day the young man died — he was 16 years old — in Hickory Trails. Three days later we were trying to plan a cookout. The city manager said, "No, it’s too dangerous out there for you guys." I went out there. I talked to the mother. Jorge went out there. You need people on the council who are just going to knock down doors and are going to do everything we can to fight for you, and to go to places you’re not supposed to go. My website’s voteshell.com, and there’s a lot of information there for you. Thank you.
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