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Wayne Abraham

by Yes Weekly Election Coverage

Residential address: Kemp Road West (map)

Incumbent or challenger? Challenger

Age: 52

Campaign website: voteabraham.com (link)

Endorsements: Carolyn Allen, Cal Cunningham, Guilford County Community PAC, Pricey Harrison, Keith Holliday, News & Record, Occupy Greensboro Media Group, David Parker, Replacements Limited PAC, Jeff Thigpen, the Victory Fund and YES! Weekly

Occupation and employer: Executive director, Personal Care

Previous electiveexperience (including election campaigns): None

Civic and volunteerexperience (including service on city commissions and boards): Human Relations Commission, 2003-2010, includingservice as chair, 2006-2008; cofounder, Triad Health Project; graduate, OtherVoices; past member, Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee of theEpiscopal Diocese of North Carolina

Education (highest degreeattained and name of institution): Master’sin business administration, Bryan School of Business, UNCG

Party registration: Democrat (nonpartisan contest)

What is the city of yourbirth? Adrian, Mich.

What year did you movehere? 1977

Paid consultants workingon your campaign: None at the moment(June 28)

Campaign manager: Jack Register

Treasurer: Nick Divitci

Do you favor or opposereopening the White Street Landfill for household waste, beyond the smallamount of sewer sludge currently accepted? Briefly explain your position.

I oppose reopening the WhiteStreet Landfill to household waste. I favor maintaining the current disposalprocess for the near term. I support reopening discussions to implement aregional solution in Randolph County and opening new discussions with citystaff concerning innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions for thelong term, such as the waste-to-energy initiative or the example that CatawbaCounty provides. I also support an open and honest discussion of this issuewith all of our citizens, a discussion that seeks common ground and the commongood, not division and animosity, which will only lead to economic decline.

Where do you stand on the“strong manager” form of city government and why?

The strong manager form ofgovernment has served us well for a long time, and I see no reason to changeit. Successful businesses use a similar model: the board of directors (in thiscase, the city council) sets the strategic direction, hires a professional CEO(city manager), and reviews performance against objectives. The city council iscomposed of elected representatives of the people, not a group of professionalcity managers. We must be willing to let the professionals do their jobs.Clearly, if we’ve learned anything from the current city council, it’s thatelected representatives cannot run a city as well as qualified city managementprofessionals.

Should the city ofGreensboro place more or less emphasis on maintaining a healthy water and sewerfund to plan for future growth? Why or why not?

The City of Greensboroshould place more emphasis on maintaining a healthy water and sewer fund toplan for future growth. As the recent breakdown of the water system in New Yorkshowed, you cannot expect infrastructure to work forever or to maintain itself.You have to be prepared for regular maintenance, future growth and theunexpected. It would be foolish to continue the crippling cuts toinfrastructure funding we’ve seen with the current city council. Siteconsultants for companies looking to relocate to our area will want to beassured that our public systems are capable of handling added users.

The city’s tax base hasremained flat for the past two years in a row, and the foreclosure crisiscontinues unabated. As a member of city council, how would you balance the needto fund services such as police patrol, fire protection and park maintenancethat citizens care about with the reality that the revenue picture remainsbleak?

The revenue picture is bleakbut we have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy city for all of ourcitizens. This is not the time for cutting spending just to cut spending, butrather to spend even more wisely. This is exactly the kind of situation in whichwe must rely on well qualified professional city managers to help us make wisechoices and smart investments. It is not the time for the kind of partisanbickering, cuts in funding for business development, and ill-advised costs forthings like landfill studies and the resulting lawsuits that we haveexperienced under our current city council. Generating sustainable economicgrowth is how we can best address the need for revenue.

Do you believe that citystaff deserves council support to implement a program to spend federal grantmoney to improve the energy efficiency of residences and businesses, or doesthis program warrant additional oversight from council? Briefly explain yourposition.

I believe that city staffdeserves council’s support to implement this program. This is not the time forus to turn down $5 million in federal funds. We can ill afford to ignore thepositive impact these funds will have on jobs for our citizens. I appreciatesome of the concerns voiced by others, however I am confident our city staffcan make the program work to the benefit of our citizens. The members of our citycouncil do not have the expertise to micromanage this program.

How would you assess thevalue and effectiveness of Greensboro’s Rental Unit Certificate of Occupancyprogram, which is now prohibited by state law?

RUCO was an excellentprogram. It reduced our substandard housing by 80 percent, which helped all ofus with the value of our own homes. We lost this program because our current citycouncil refused to defend our right to local control. Without so much as asimple resolution in opposition, they let Raleigh make a decision that wasGreensboro’s to make. This should never have happened and I will work to seethat it does not happen again.

How should the impasse overmanagement and operation of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market be resolved?

For once, I agree with the citycouncil’s decision to let the nonprofit group handle the local farmer’s market.This is exactly the kind of “buy local” strategy that helps our localeconomy.

What, if anything, should bedone to resolve racial tensions, and to enhance professionalism, integrity andfairness within the Greensboro Police Department?

All of us want a policedepartment that exhibits professionalism, integrity and fairness to every resident.That is their responsibility as our city employees. Racial tensions are bestresolved through ongoing communication among all parties, and I support regularneighborhood meetings between police and residents. I support a strong city humanrelations commission to monitor tensions, resolve issues and keep city councilinformed of public sentiment. I support ongoing training and development formembers of our police force. And I expect our city manager to be open andhonest with city council on any issues that threaten the safety of any of ourcitizens.

What would you change aboutGreensboro’s land use patterns if the decision were yours to make? Pleaseanswer the question in terms of places people live, work and shop, in terms ofthe modes of transportation people use to get from point to point and thevitality of neighborhoods and commercial corridors?

I support Connections 2025,the comprehensive plan developed by our citizens and approved by City Councilin 2003. It has very clear priorities on land use, transportation and a wholehost of other equally important issues. I would work with city council torecommit city staff to implementing that plan, in conjunction with theSustainability Committee’s plan.

What is Greensboro’sgreatest asset? What is Greensboro’s most pressing problem?

Greensboro’s greatest assetis its people. We have a wonderfully diverse population, with a tremendousamount of talent, ability and potential. We need to nurture those talents andabilities, and harness that potential to address our most pressing problem: oureconomy. We must act quickly to restore Greensboro’s image as a well-run andwell-governed city. We must show, once again, that we are serious aboutmaintaining our infrastructure so businesses can feel good, not only aboutlocating here but expanding here as well. We must create an environment inwhich our local businesses combine forces with our talented and capableresidents to create and maintain the quality of life we all deserve.

Articles about this candidate:

YES! endorsements (link)

2011 general election voter guide (link)

Taxes and spending: Where Greensboro City Council candidates stand (link)

Danny Thompson’s specious landfill numbers (link)

Abraham will stay in race, hopes to win with Abuzuaiter and Johnson (link)

Greensboro primary: at-large analysis (link)

Mayoral challenger Perkins swamps incumbent Knight (link)

2011 primary election endorsement & voter guide (link)

At-large candidates in Greensboro municipal election struggle to differentiate themselves (link)

Campaign season underway in Greensboro municipal elections (link)

Candidate profile: Wayne Abraham (link)

Landfill fight estranges human relations commission from council (link)

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