Incumbent or challenger? Challenger
Endorsements: Carolina Peacemaker, Guilford County Community PAC, Occupy Greensboro Media Group, Replacements Limited PAC, Simkins PAC, Katie Southard and YES! Weekly
Occupation and employer: Managing director, Preston/Reffett, a national executive recruiting practice
Previous elective experience (including election campaigns): None
Civic and volunteer experience (including service on city commissions and boards): Chair, Greensboro Human Relations Commission, chair of complaint review committee (has served on commission since 2007); former board president, Reading Connections, YWCA and Touring Theatre of North Carolina; board member, Music for a Great Space
Education (highest degree attained and name of institution): Master in education, University of South Carolina
Party registration: Democrat (nonpartisan contest)
Where were you born? Rock Hill, SC
When did you move to Greensboro? 1997
Paid consultants working on your campaign: None
Campaign manager: Lauren Jeffries
Treasurer: Margaret Rowlett
Do you favor or oppose reopening the White Street Landfill for household waste, beyond the small amount of sewer sludge currently accepted? Briefly explain your position.
The municipal solid waste issue has been handled poorly and clumsily; two years have been squandered considering this issue with no acceptable solution in sight and a lawsuit imposed upon the city to defend. I favor a regional approach for the long term. Such a decision will ensure that northeast Greensboro remains available over the next two decades for residential and business expansion and development.
Of particular concern is the council’s:
Rush to re-open White Street and expand it without legally required public hearing and meaningful citizen dialogue and input
Willingness to give a 15-30 year contract to private company to operate
Unwillingness to consider and compare city staff proposal to operate the landfill along with private company proposals
Where do you stand on the “strong manager” form of city government and why?
I support a “strong manager” form of city government in which the council role is to provide vision, long-term strategy, and policy determination. Professional city staff is charged with the day to day operation of city government, making appropriate recommendations to council, as well as undertaking the study and evaluation of policy decisions to develop options and implementation details for council to review and adopt. This model has been effective in Greensboro for decades, and it was under this system that the city experienced strong, steady growth, prosperity, and a reputation for being a progressive city with good quality of life attractive to new business development.
Should the city of Greensboro place more or less emphasis on maintaining a healthy water and sewer fund to plan for future growth? Why or why not?
Greensboro must be diligent in maintaining a healthy water and sewer system to maintain our present infrastructure level and be prepared for future residential and business growth. Our current water supply is probably adequate for the next 30 years assuming conservative growth projections. However, our water and sewer infrastructure are decaying (pipelines more than 100 years old) and will require continuous upgrade and maintenance to meet future needs. That is why this Council’s use of the $16 M from the MCI Constructors settlement should have remained in the city’s reserve for future needs rather than returned to us in a small water rate decrease. This is short-term rather than long-term thinking and a bad policy decision.
The city’s tax base has remained flat for the past two years in a row, and the foreclosure crisis continues unabated. As a member of city council, how would you balance the need to fund services such as police patrol, fire protection and park maintenance that citizens care about with the reality that the revenue picture remains bleak?
We must always ensure that our city government is operated at maximum financial efficiency and tax revenue deployed effectively. We should measure our tax rate against those of sister cities with whom we compete for business and population to maintain balanced ratio comparisons. The conversation should never be “no tax increase” versus “tax increase”. Instead it must be a discussion around a competitive tax rate that allows us to make the investments in Greensboro that will encourage existing businesses to expand and make new investment and new ones to locate here. Ultimately there should be a dialogue with our citizenry around what services they are willing to pay for and consider essential to maintain our quality of life. Our objective should be to improve the tax base over the next decade by attracting new business, growth in existing business, and new job creation.
Do you believe that city staff deserves council support to implement a program to spend federal grant money to improve the energy efficiency of residences and businesses, or does this program warrant additional oversight from council? Briefly explain your position.
When the city has received a federal grant to improve the energy efficiency of residences and business based on a proposal with specific guidelines for implementation, those guidelines should be followed by professional staff with measurable outcomes reported to city council.
How would you assess the value and effectiveness of Greensboro’s Rental Unit Certificate of Occupancy program, which is now prohibited by law?
I supported RUCO as did our city staff and director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition. RUCO even had significant landlord support. Yes, the NC General Assembly voted to eliminate RUCO, but our city council had the opportunity to go on record in support of the city’s successful use of RUCO to improve its rental housing inventory and insure safe homes for Greensboro citizens, but they chose not to do so.
How should the impasse over management and operation of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market be resolved?
The Council decision regarding how and who should operate the Greensboro Framers Market should have been made decisively in a reasonable time frame. Instead it became lengthy and divisive with the coliseum being tossed into the mix at the eleventh hour. I support the final decision to have GFMI, a non-profit, assume responsibility for the market’s operation.
What, if anything, should be done to resolve racial tensions, and to enhance professionalism, integrity and fairness within the Greensboro Police Department?
Our new chief of police, Ken Miller, was brought in from the outside to provide leadership and be a change agent to ensure that we have a professional, disciplined police department where promotion is based on merit and clear, measurable standards of performance and where poor performance is documented and addressed with appropriate training and disciplinary action. I trust Chief Miller to develop and carry out appropriate policies and procedures and keep his boss, the city manager, fully informed.
What would you change about Greensboro’s land use patterns if the decision were yours to make? Please answer the question in terms of places people live, work, and shop, in terms of the modes of transportation people use to get from point to point and the vitality of neighborhoods and commercial corridors.
The future ideal would be a reduction in urban sprawl, both residential and commercial. Instead, we should maximize land utilization and support neighborhood/community re-development in our inner city and older neighborhoods by revitalizing these existing neighborhoods to meet future housing needs, making them attractive and highly livable hubs of community activity and neighborhood esprit de corps. We must continue and expand redevelopment/revitalization projects such as Willow Oaks, South Elm Street, Southside, and look at opportunities for properties such as the old Bessemer Shopping Center property.
We want to facilitate and encourage people being able to shop and enjoy amenities close to home, to reduce automobile use and encourage walking, bicycling, use of motor-scooters, as well as offer easy access to good public transportation that expands on the hub concept to improve and allow faster traffic on north/south and east/west corridors.
What is Greensboro’s greatest asset? What is Greensboro’s most pressing problem?
Our greatest strength is our diversity and quality of life which manifests itself in numerous and varied ways: a rich and colorful history of ethnic/religious groups and families who made Greensboro home, prospered and gave back to the community; seven great institutions of higher education; strong private family foundations fully vested in making the city better and stronger; a flourishing cultural arts scene (music, art, theater); an active, talented creative class; outstanding recreation facilities; a world-class coliseum complex with multiple venues; abundant open, green space; a strong business community, including a number of highly-ranked public and private companies. All contribute to make Greensboro a vibrant, attractive city.
Greensboro’s most pressing problem is a City Council that does not understand its major role and responsibility is to provide leadership, vision, and long-term strategy to enable the city to embrace the future and ensure Greensboro continues to listen to the people who have been pushed to the back and given no opportunity for dialogue.
Articles about this candidate:2011 general election voter guide (link)