by YES! Staff

Items from across the Triad and Beyond, compiled by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

Besse to seek third term on city council

Winston-Salem City Councilman Dan Besse announced he would seek a third term as representative of the Southwest Ward during a campaign kickoff Items from across the Triad and Beyond, compiled by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green event at Miller Park in Winston-Salem on Sunday. “It’s up to you to decide if I’ve earned your trust,” Besse told the more than 50 supporters in attendance. Besse cited improved transportation infrastructure, expanded greenways and bikeways, a better public transit system, enhanced public safety and downtown revitalization as among his top achievements in his first seven years in office. He also cited job creation, a progressive approach to environmental issues and a better quality of life for the city’s residents as the result of a collective effort by the council. Besse credited the work of Mayor Allen Joines — who announced he would pursue a third term as mayor during a May 26 rally — with much of the city’s job growth since 2001. He said the city council has been proactive in economic development, which is why the city’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in theregion. Winston- Salem’s unemployment rate stands at 8.4 percent,according to the NC Employment Security Commission’s April report.Greensboro’s unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, while High Point’sjobless rate stands at 11.3 percent. Besse said city leaders can stilldo a better job of improving the quality of life for all the city’sresidents, including the 28,000 constituents of the Southwest Ward.“City council is not for serving a political ideology,” he said. “It’sto serve your constituents.” — KTB

Wright reelected as Guilford County Republican chairman

The executive committee of the Guilford County Republican Party has reelected Bill Wright as its chairman and Patrick Tillman asits vice-chairman. Tillman is the son of NC Sen. Jerry Tillman ofRandolph County. The committee elected Tony Wilkins as executivedirector. Wright said in a prepared statement that the county partystands behind the principles of limited government, less governmentregulation, lower taxes, strong national defense, free markets andindividual liberty, adding, “We will not compromise those principlesfor the sake of political expediency based on poll numbers or focusgroups. We will work diligently at the grassroots level to electconservative, Constitution-believing candidates from the courthouse tothe White House.” — JG

Forsyth commissioners approve 2009-2010 budget

By a vote of 4-3, the Forsyth County Commission followed County Manager Dudley Watts’ recommendationand approved a property tax rate of 67.4 cents for every $100 ofvaluation for fiscal year 2009-2010 during a special meeting on May 28.The budget adopted by the commissioners lowers the county’s propertytax rate from its current level of 69.6 cents per $100. Commissioners Debra Conrad and Richard Linville hadadvocated dropping the tax rate to 66.3 cents per $100 valuation, andvoted against the measure. In his budget message, Watts explained tocommissioners that the 1.1 cents increase from 63.3 to 67.4 would helppay the debt service on the

For more information, call 336.373.2155. — JG

Lewis announces run for US Senate; Cunningham hints at candidacy

Democrat Kenneth Lewis, a Winston-Salem native, formally announced his candidacy for the US Senate seat currently held by Richard Burr (R-NC) during a meeting at Forsyth County Democratic Headquarters on May 30. Also, former NC Sen. Cal Cunningham, aWinston-Salem attorney, said “the conversation is ongoing” regarding apossible run for US Senate in 2010. Lewis, a business attorney atWomble Carlyle, credited his interest in public service to his family. Cunninghamjoined the Army Reserves after Sept. 11 and served as a JAG lawyer inIraq. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts to prosecutemilitary contractors. In a Public Policy Polling survey released May26, Cunningham polled closest to Burr out of a field of seven potentialDemocratic candidates that included Elizabeth Edwards, NC Sen. Dan Blue, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, US Rep. Bob Etheridge, US Rep. Heath Shuler and former state Treasurer Richard Moore. Thesurvey, which questioned 798 North Carolina voters, had Cunninghamtrailing Burr, by a 8 percentage points. Edwards and Blue posted thesecond highest numbers, trailing Burr by 11 points in the poll.Cunningham also enjoyed the highest favorability rating among theDemocrats at 46 percent. “We need energetic and compelling leadershipand we’re not getting it,” Cunningham said during the May 30 meeting.Cunningham said he fully expects the party to unite behind onecandidate before the May 7, 2010 Democratic primary. — KTB

Commissioners could cut school funds

TheForsyth County Commission will consider a resolution to cut $1.12million from funds designated for the Winston- Salem/Forsyth CountySchools central office during the board’s June 8 meeting. CountyManager Dudley Watts negotiated the reduction in funds with theschool system for the current 2008-2009 fiscal year due to “prevailingeconomic conditions.” The commissioners approved $113.5 million infunding for the school system during its adoption of its fiscal year2009-2010 budget on May 28. The school system had requested a littlemore than $115 million from the county. The school system’s overallbudget is estimated at $550 million. Kerry Crutchfield, directorof financial services for the school system, said the $550 millionfigure may seem a bit inflated but it’s due to the opening of three newschools — Caleb’s Creek Elementary, Kimball Farm Elementary and FlatRock Middle School. In March, the school system learned that it wouldreceive $25 million in funds as part of the economic stimulus packageto go toward programs for handicapped students and Title I schools. Anyschool with 35 percent or more of its students receiving free orreduced price lunches is eligible for the federal funds. Forty-three ofthe 76 schools in the Winston- Salem/Forsyth County school system areTitle I eligible, said Title I program director Cheryl Johnson. Theinfusion of stimulus funds will allow the school system to serveschools with 50 percent or more students receiving free or reducedlunches during the 2009- 2010 school year, she said. — KTB