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The money race for mayor

by Amy Kingsley

In the first half of 2007, contributors poured more than $7,500 dollars into the mayor’s race, according to campaign reports released last week. More than $5,000 of it has gone to longtime councilmember Yvonne Johnson. Downtown developer Milton Kern has collected $2,200 for his mayoral bid. The usual suspects – attorneys, developers, politicians and business owners – are represented in campaign reports, which were filed in late July. Johnson’s campaign has benefited from early support by employees of the Koury Corp., the real estate and development firm behind the Grandover Resort and Koury Convention Center. Seven Koury Corp. employees and the director of the convention center donated $100 each in the first six months of the year for a total of $800. The Johnson campaign received its largest contribution to date – $2,000 – from developer Edward Krusch, who has been involved with retail and residential development in some of Greensboro’s fastest-growing corridors: Wendover Avenue and New Garden Road. State Rep. Alma Adams, who represents parts of Greensboro, donated $100 to Johnson. Lawyers have also been kind to the aspiring mayor; Kenneth Lee donated $1,000 and Robert Hunter, who represented Trudy Wade in her appeal of the 2004 election, gave $250. “I’ve known Yvonne Johnson and her family for years,” Hunter said. “I’ve employed her daughter and I know Walter Johnson. And I think she would make a great mayor.” Hunter, who is a native of Greensboro, said he hasn’t decided whether to support candidates in any of the other citywide elections. Edward Curry moved to Greensboro from New Jersey decades ago and now owns and operates a car repair shop on Lee Street. He knows Johnson from One Step Further, a non-profit mediation and alternative sentencing organization, where he serves on the board. Curry said he donates regularly to local campaigns, and in early June, he cut Johnson a $75 check. “I don’t always like her politics, but I think she’s honest and would do a good job,” Curry said. “She doesn’t always come across as a Democrat or a Republican, I respect that she has an open mind.” Kern announced his candidacy for mayor months after Johnson. Consequently, his campaign coffers are not as full. According to his campaign finance report, Kern raised $2,200 in less than two weeks that fell between the mid-July announcement that he would seek the city’s highest office and the county’s deadline for the reports. One of Kern’s highest profile supporters is retired US Sen. Robert Burren Morgan, who served from 1975 to 1981. Morgan gave the Kern campaign $200. HH Weaver, the president of Carolina Turkeys, who lists his home address in Goldsboro, gave the downtown developer $250. Locally, the most prominent name on Kern contributor list is probably Eddie Yost, one of the principals of the omnipresent realty company Yost & Little. Yost said he regularly supports candidates who share his political philosophy, which in this case means emphasizing economic development. “In Greensboro, we need people who are interested in bringing in jobs,” Yost said. “If we can get businesses and jobs, that would be great, and I think [Kern] is very active in that respect.” Yost donated $100 to Kern’s campaign. The business owner said he routinely contributes to campaigns at all levels of government and will also be supporting Kevin Green in his bid for an at-large seat on the city council. “I don’t donate in a great way,” Yost said. “But I do believe in trying to have someone who shares my philosophy representing me in public office.” Yost said he thinks he and Kern have a similar interest in seeing Greensboro grow in an orderly fashion. “Greensboro is not real big, but we’d like for it to grow a bit bigger,” he said. “What we need is controlled growth.” The largest contributor so far to the Kern campaign is DJ Brady, owner of Brady Trane, a company that installs heating, ventilation, air conditioning and water treatment systems for industrial clients. Brady gave the Kern campaign $1,000.

To comment on this story, e-mail Amy Kingsley at amy@yesweekly.com.

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