George Hartzman, District 3 candidate
Residential address: 2506 Baytree Drive, 27455 Incumbent or challenger? Challenger Age: 42 Campaign website or blog: www.questionsforgreensboro.com Occupation and employer: Vice president for investments, Wells Fargo Advisors; president, Think Professional Education; teaches financial ethics, economics and life strategies to certified public accountants Previous elective experience (including election campaigns): None Civic and volunteer experience (including service on city commissions and boards): Recreational softball coach Education (highest degree attained and name of institution): Bachelor’s in science and philosophy, Frostburg State University, Maryland Party registration: Unaffiliated (nonpartisan race) What is the city and state of your birth? Livermore, Calif. If not Greensboro, what year did you move here? 1992 Paid consultants working on your campaign: None Your campaign manager(s): Self Your treasurer:’ Self
Remarks from Sept. 8 candidate forum:
Introductory statement Good evening. My name is George Hartzman. I’m a financial advisor, and I teach financial education and CPA continuing education. In the last few months, after becoming involved in Greensboro’s political system, I have found that our elections process is seriously flawed. Some commonly accepted election campaign practices that are legal in Greensboro, are illegal elsewhere. And I believe some political donations should be illegal here in Greensboro. There seems to be a high correlation between those funding the political process and those receiving taxpayer money. Which is legal here in Greensboro. And which is why we should adopt what is called “pay to play” campaign finance reform, which would outlaw candidates and elected officials from accepting campaign contributions from entities with conflicts of interest, including leading members of organizations receiving taxpayer money and/or developers, contractors or their lawyers or agents for 12 months before and after doing business with our municipal government. Thank you. How would you deal with the issue of dilapidated, unsafe housing and absentee landlords? That’s a tough one. The city has borrowed a lot of money. We continue to borrow a lot of money. The Section 8 situation in Greensboro seems to be — it’s ugly. I’ve seen rental properties — my wife works at the YWCA, and she works with teen parents. She goes into the homes of these kids who had babies while they were in high school. And a lot of the properties are where she goes inside the home. And what is there is atrocious. I can’t say I know the answers to that. But it’s a serious problem. The care that some of these places are at is scary. And it needs to be addressed. Thanks. The city staff came up with a plan to mitigate noise from the Urban Loop. Should the city adopt these rules? The Urban Loop should be redesigned, relocated or transferred somewhere else in the section from 29 basically to the existing highways where they are now. From what I have seen of the noise assessment, we’re going to have 72,000 cars a day passing through residential neighborhoods. The developers, in my view, got the land relatively inexpensively and were able to increase their profit margins by building new homes on the land, and then selling them at a relatively good price. I have a brick barrier up the street from me. It’s not going to do anything. Anything built after 1996 isn’t going to get a barrier. It used to be a boulevard; now it’s an interstate highway. You’re going to have tractor-trailers coming from 29 on their way to 40 going west. It is not what they advertised in the first place, and it’s going to be at least twice as noisy as DOT says it’s going to be. There are certain places such as New Garden Road and Horse Pen Creek Road where sprawl as occurred and not urban infill, which is what many council people and candidates support. How will you address urban infill and limit the continued sprawl of northwest Greensboro? We are in the worst recession since World War II. We are in the worst recession since the Great Depression. If gas prices go up to five dollars a gallon, urban infill will be an economic reality that will take care of itself. If you make a lot of rules… they don’t get enforced or they get watered down to the point where they don’t work. Where we are now with the availability of credit will dictate how infill occurs in Greensboro. The center city is going to get big. It’s going to get heavily populated because that’s where the transportation infrastructure is. That’s where the jobs are going to be. And we’re going to gravitate to that part of town, not necessarily because we designed it as so, but because it will be a consequence of the economic realities of where we’re going to be in 5 to 10 years. Name something that would not have happened without you. Oh, I’m going to think of it first? I’m going to think of it first. You know what? Last year I had the privilege of pitching a girls fast-pitch softball team for the city of Greensboro league by the name of “Killer Tofu.” We had tie-dye shirts. It was great. And I made a difference in the lives of some kids. And it was an amazing experience. And I would encourage anyone who ever gets the shot at coaching some kids at any sport to jump in…. You can actually change the way a kid acts. You can change the future of some kid that doesn’t happen to be yours. It’s an amazing experience. How would you improve public transportation for areas in the city without bus service? Actually, that goes back to the economic realities of where we are. The way that I try to figure it out is that as energy prices increase we will see an increased demand for public transportation. At that point you will see more public transportation. But you can’t have a bunch of buses going around with no one in them. But when the economic reality dictates that more buses are going to be out on the streets, you’re going to see them. What Jay said about the Time-Warner situation is dead-on. It’s dead-on. There were four cities that were picked for cable rates to go up. We were one of them. What I found disturbing when that happened is that Greensboro, North Carolina had a lobbyist. And Time-Warner — really the communications industry and the broadcast industry — has a lobbyist. And it is my understanding that they’re the same person. They’re the same person. It’s the same person. So what was our lobbyist thinking when they basically tried to jack our cable rates, and represent the best interests of the city of Greensboro at the same time? What is your position on land use, zoning or future land-use planning? So far, what I have seen of the zoning process is pretty bad. I didn’t know anything about the issue until I got into the race. What I found is that my opponent, Mr. Matheny, who’s not here this evening, was on the zoning commission from 2005 to 2007. When he ran for office, he had raised $46,000. If you look at the campaign finance filing, which is at guilfordelections.com or something, you’ll find an amazing correlation between the people who had been before the zoning commission and where the campaign finance — where the money came from. Our political system is broken. That needs to be fixed. That needs to be fixed. That’s something that’s wrong. I mean, there’s right and there’s wrong. And it needs to be fixed.’ What is your vision for Greensboro concerning the following environmental issues: the expansion of the current recycling program with more types of materials and accessibility to recycling centers? We have a trash problem. We’re shipping it to another county. It costs a lot of money. We could save a lot of money by not doing that. I keep saying gas prices. Gas prices go up, we’re going to be spending an amazing amount of money shipping our trash to Montgomery County. It will become very costly. We need to seriously consider reopening the White Street Landfill. It’s a divisive issue; I understand that. I believe it’s going to come down to reopening the landfill or a hundred city jobs. And that decision is going to be made. It might not be made at the same time. We might decide to completely close it, and as a consequence what may happen after that — in other words, what we may not be prepared for — is that we’re going to lose a bunch of city jobs and city services if the plan doesn’t work. We’re shipping a lot of trash. We’re paying a lot of money to have it shipped to somewhere else. We need to at least hold it in reserve so we don’t get clipped. Closing statement Okay. Our political system is broken. I’m not talking about Greensboro either. I’m talking about the country. I’ve been doing this a couple months. I teach CPA continuing education. I started with California’s budget deficit, and it morphed into what’s happening at a different level. It’s the same thing that happened at the national level. If we can get our political ethics fixed, Greensboro could become a magnet for good-paying jobs. Really. Because businesses will know Greensboro provides a level playing field for companies looking to expand or relocate. Let’s not spend more than what we make on what we don’t need. How many people, by a show of hands, knew that Greensboro has the highest tax rate of the 10 biggest cities in North Carolina? Let’s not spend more than we make on what we don’t need. How many people know that Greensboro and Guilford County authorized 77 percent more debt from 2008’s election? If you would like to have one of my broadsides that say, ‘Let’s not spend more than we make on what we don’t need,’ please pick one up on your way out. Thank you very much for having me.
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