Taylor looks add a fresh voice to city council

by Keith Barber

James Taylor, a candidate for the Democratic nomination to represent Winston-Salem’s Southeast Ward, said he won’t “blast” his opponent, incumbent Evelyn Terry. Taylor credits his philosophy of running a positive campaign to his upbringing. “Growing up as a pastor’s child, those things are drilled in you,” Taylor said. “You learn the Golden Rule. After a while you grow into it. I don’t know how to do anything else than serve my community. Life is bigger than me.” A newcomer to the political arena, Taylor has been knocking on a lot of doors in the Southeast Ward and listening to the concerns of residents since he launched his campaign two months ago. He said the strategy has paid big dividends, because he’s quickly learned the concerns and high expectations of his constituents. “People want three things in this city and this ward — they want to feel safe; they want to know their voices are being heard; and they want to feel their communities are prospering,” Taylor said. “The council needs a fresh set of legs, a different set of ideas. The people need active leadership.” Taylor, a 28-year-old juvenile court counselor, faces Terry, 65, in the municipal primary on Sept. 15. Taylor said much of his discussions with residents in the Waughtown area of his ward center on the pervasiveness of drugs, violence and prostitution in their neighborhoods. Taylor, who grew up in the Belview neighborhood and served on the Silk Plant Forest Citizen Review Committee, said the Winston-Salem Police Department’s new deployment plan has been somewhat effective in deterring crime, but that ripple effect hasn’t been felt in some of the more economically depressed areas of the city. Taylor also expressed concerns about the implementation of Operation Impact, the city’s program to hold absentee landlords accountable . “Operation Impact is going to the homes of the upstanding citizens rather than the drug dealers,” Taylor said. “We have to take a program like this to make the community better, not to harass people.” Taylor said he’s promising his supporters that he will serve every area of his ward, “even the parts people want to turn a blind eye to,” he said. “I’ve heard community leaders say I’ve done more in three minutes than has been done in three years. When you have a vested interest in a community, you tend to work a little harder. Being born and raised in Southeast Ward, I want to see progress; I want to see success.” Taylor said the Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas grant for the Waughtown area was a good first step, but further action is needed to enhance economic development in the ward. If elected, Taylor said he would fight to protect existing businesses through grants and loans, and recruit new businesses rather than support the development of big-box stores like Wal-Mart, that “actually sucks the life out of small business, which is the nucleus of a ward like ours.” Taylor said he would also be a strong advocate on environmental issues. He lauded the city council for passing the tree ordinance last month, but said there is more work to be done to ensure clean air and water for all. Taylor said he’s learned a lot about the political process since he entered the political arena. “I’ve learned this is like a prize fight,” he said. “You’ve got to protect yourself at all times.” After listening closely to his neighbors for two months, Taylor said he is confident he can win a seat on the city council. “This year, I feel like you’re going to see a new person in that seat,” he said. “It won’t be as hard as I thought because most of the time, people vote for a person only because there’s not another viable candidate. This year, I’m that viable candidate.”