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by Brian Clarey and Keith T. Barber

A CONTENDER IN D-4

Nancy Hoffman, a Greensboro businesswoman, teacher and community activist, has announced her candidacy for District 4 in the 2011 city council election, challenging incumbent Mary Rakestraw, according to a press release.

Hoffman has been managing director of Preston/Reffett, an executive headhunting company since 1998, and is a reading tutor at Bluford Elementary School. Her civic involvement includes time on the boards of the Greensboro YWCA, Reading Connections and the North Carolina Touring Theatre, and she has served on the Greensboro Human Relations Commission since 2007. She is currently chair of the Complaint Review Committee.

“I have listened to citizen complaints regarding the police and fair housing,” she wrote in the release. “It’s a time-consuming process but a necessary tool for an open government to operate effectively. Our citizens must always be heard.”

Hoffman wrote that she decided to run because she sees the current council as one that is disrespectful towards citizens and makes short-sighted, ideologically driven decisions.

“Greensboro deserves fresh voices who can speak up for its citizens without promoting personal agendas or ideologies,” she wrote. “I will be in nobody’s faction. I am my own person but know how to reach across divides and bridge differences to moderate views and reach consensus.”

Hoffman lives in a townhome near the corner of Friendly Avenue and Holden Road and is a registered Democrat. This is her first run for political office. And she says that her campaign is not targeted against the sitting council member.

“I’m running because I live in D-4,” she told YES! Weekly. “This race is not and should not be about Mary Rakestraw. It should be about electing a person to council with a different background and a different skill set that can change the dynamic of council, make this a better city council. Sometimes it takes a fresh voice to do that.”

Rakestraw is a member of the conservative faction on council along with District 5 Council Trudy Wade, at-large Representative Danny Thompson and Mayor Bill Knight, which generally votes in a bloc. In 2009 she defeated challenger Joel Landau by 277 votes.

Of Hoffman, Rakestraw told YES! Weekly:

I don’t know her well. She came up for reappointment on the Human Relations Commission and I reappointed her…. She had some of the people who had served on the commission with her who had recommended that she was a good person for that committee, and so I took that advice. And that’s all I really know about her.” — BC

JONES STREET EYES GREENE STREET

The North Carolina General Assembly has its sites set on Greensboro, as three pieces of legislation affecting the city made their way through the body last week. One bill introduced by Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford) changes the structure of our city government, putting the city attorney under the authority of city council, as it is done in every other NC municipality, as opposed to the city manager. This comes just after City Manager Rashad Young hired Rita Danish, city attorney at his previous job in Dayton, Ohio to fill the post here. Blust is also advocating for a redistricting of Guilford County, reducing the nine district, 11-member county commission to a six-district, nine-member body. And just as the city seems to have gotten its rental unit certificate of occupancy program straightened out, a statewide bill limiting city inspections of rental properties made its way through the Senate Commerce Committee. Greensboro’s RUCO ordinance, which requires annual inspection of a 2 percent sample of rental properties, would be nullified and inspections would revert back to a complaint-based system if passed. — BC

PERDUE VETOES NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S BUDGET BILL

On Sunday, Gov. Beverly Perdue made history, becoming the first North Carolina governor to veto a budget passed by the NC General Assembly. Perdue vetoed the $19.7 billion state budget plan passed by the Republicancontrolled legislature, stating that lawmakers had turned their backs on the state’s children while placing in jeopardy its longstanding investments in education and future economic prospects. “From the high chair to the rocking chair, every North Carolinian has been given the opportunity for a quality education — from early childhood, K-12, community colleges and through our colleges and universities,” Perdue said in a statement. “This is the commitment we have made to our people because, quite simply, it’s what we believe in. We have lived our values — until now.” Perdue said she objected to a GOP budget that would cut funding by 20 percent for both the More At Four and Smart Start early childhood education programs, and move More At Four from the Department of Public Instruction to the Department of Health and Human Services. The budget passed by the legislature would also direct local school districts to look for an additional $124 million in spending cuts next year, which could lead to the loss of more than 9,000 jobs. The Republican budget also reduces overall spending to the community college and University of North Carolina systems by $150 million less than Perdue’s proposed budget. Perdue cited the loss of 3,200 UNC faculty positions as the reason for her objection. The GOP budget also reduces spending in the state agency that oversees Medicaid by $222 million less than Perdue’s proposal and cuts funding to mental health programs. The budget cuts or eliminates some state environmental regulatory programs; reduces spending for some state historic sites, which could lead to closure, and cuts spending to the Highway

Patrol, the Capitol Police and the state court system. “This budget will result in generational damage,” Perdue said. “It tears at the very fibers that make North Carolina strong — not only our schools, but also our communities, our environment, our public safety system and our ability to care for those who need us most. Our most vulnerable and sick will see medical and mental health services cut or eliminated; families will have fewer resources as they care for their elderly, their disabled or their mentally ill; the natural environmental treasures that we cherish and that draw so many visitors to North Carolina will be at risk of permanent damage or destruction.” In her statement, Gov. Perdue chastised state legislature for not extending the one-cent sales tax that is already in place, that could save the state more than a billion dollars in revenue to help close the budget gap.

“These cuts were made by the legislature in this budget by choice,” Perdue said. “They chose to risk our children’s futures — for less than a penny.” — KTB

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