Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan was rightly indignant on primary election night. Despite receiving more than 80 percent of the vote in the mayoral primary, Vaughan lectured the uninterested public on the lax turnout.
“Thank you to those who voted! 4% turnout is unacceptable,” Vaughan wrote on Twitter on the evening of Oct. 6. “Men & women have died defending our rights. Don’t let them down!” The low level of interest in the election didn’t surprise us. But we’re hoping interest ratchets up a notch as Greensboro makes its way toward the general election on Nov. 3.
There are difficult decisions facing the city. Should it continue to spend some $50 million on two pet projects that many everyday citizens of the city don’t support or understand? We thought the $30 million for the Tanger Performing Arts Center and the $22 million for water lines to the proposed megasite in Randolph County were settled issues. But in our interviews with challengers to the mayor and two of the three challengers in the at-large race, we heard it over and over again: criticism of the council’s spending priorities.
It’s hard to understand the holistic approach to economic development— the one that says these major projects will help lift all boats—when the city ranks among the tops in the country for poverty and hunger. It’s hard to justify spending a public dollar on entertainment when the city’s police headquarters is half unfinished, homeless and panhandlers plague the center city, and well-to-do millenials joke about avoiding downtown for fear of “being attacked by a homeless person.”
True words heard on the streets. The city recently ran off homeless that had taken to sleeping in doorways on the 300 block of South Elm Street, making an unsightly aesthetic for people trying to spend money at shops, restaurants and bars.
Perhaps the fundamentals should be readdressed before we extend ourselves too far? !
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