It seems as though the primaries are hardly over, and now it’s time to go back to the polls.
The Oct. 10 primary winnowed unruly fields in Greensboro and High Point down to two candidates per seat, and early voting begins Thursday for a 13-day run in advance of the Nov. 7 general election.
For the first seven days, early voting takes place in the Blue Room of the Old Courthouse in downtown Greensboro and Washington Terrace Park in High Point. You can vote at either location as long as you’re eligible to vote in the Greensboro or High Point elections. On the last week of early voting, two additional sites open — the Ag Center on the east side of Greensboro, and Leonard Recreation Center on the west side. And on Nov. 4, the Saturday preceding Election Day, a total of eight early-voting sites open, including Deep River Recreation Center in High Point. Visit the Guilford County Board of Elections website at myguilford.com/elections/ for additional information about early voting and to find out which candidates will appear on your ballot.
All elections are important, but this one is a pretty big deal. For the first time, terms for mayor and city council members in Greensboro will be extended to four years from the current two. High Point will be electing a new mayor and filling two vacant seats, while tightly contested races in Greensboro’s at-large bracket and District 5 could potentially determine the direction of the city. Go vote.
Mayoral (vote for 1)
Nancy Vaughan (i): Over her two terms as mayor, Nancy Vaughan has led a center-left coalition that has promoted downtown reinvestment and multiculturalism. As executive director of the Guilford Green Foundation, which advances the interest of LGBTQ people, she represents a cultural counterweight to a Republican-controlled General Assembly that has taken multiple opportunities to undermine gay and trans rights. She’s walked a fine line on police reform issues, as revelations of racial disparities in traffic stops and excessive force have trained unwelcome attention on the department. She met for months with reform advocates and sat on a panel with author Michelle Alexander, but publicly backed the Greensboro Police Department against accusations of excessive force involving a 15-year-old in the controversial Jose Charles case. And yet the Oct. 10 primary proved that Greensboro is not Charlotte — unlike Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who lost her primary, Vaughan came through with a commanding 61.4 percent of the vote, while two challengers from the left and right shared the leftovers.
Diane Moffett: A longtime pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church in southeast Greensboro and new resident who recently relocated from Jamestown to the city, the Rev. Diane Moffett snagged a spot on the general election ballot with her second-place finish in the primary. But considering that she received 21.7 percent of the vote, Moffett has a lot of ground to make up. And it’s unlikely she’ll be able to woo supporters of John T. Brown, the conservative Republican eliminated in the general election. Some on the left are discontent with Vaughan’s track record on police accountability and the city’s growing wealth gap, but Moffett has her work cut out to distinguish herself on those issues. Attracting jobs that pay a living wage, improving police-community relations and addressing poverty are a few of Moffett’s interests.
At-large (vote for up to 3)
Yvonne Johnson (i): One of Greensboro’s most significant political leaders over the past quarter century, Yvonne Johnson was the first and only African American elected mayor, and she’s served on city council for 24 years, with a two-year break from 2009 to 2011 when she lost her mayoral re-election bid. Johnson has achieved a rare alchemy in the at-large race, earning respect as a veteran incumbent while also capturing the support of a new progressive coalition seeking police reform and more aggressive policies to promote affordable housing and increase wages. Johnson said she prayed and analyzed the situation before courting Democracy Greensboro voters. It must have paid off: Johnson led the balloting in the Oct. 10 primary, polling 7.8 points ahead of the nearest contender.
Marikay Abuzuaiter (i): A one-time protégé of Yvonne Johnson, former restaurateur Marikay Abuzuaiter has come into her own in her three terms on council, building on a political base from the city’s international community and lasting goodwill from her ardent opposition to efforts to reopen the White Street Landfill. Abuzuaiter recently parted ways with Johnson on police accountability by publicly backing the police after reviewing police body-camera video of a July 4, 2016 encounter with 15-year-old Jose Charles, while Johnson said, “There are rules where it’s legal to do something, but it may be that a better decision could have been made.” While alienating Democracy Greensboro voters, Abuzuaiter has received endorsements from the Greensboro Police Officers Association and the Professional Fire Fighters, and took second place with a 3.4-point lead over fellow incumbent Mike Barber.
Mike Barber (i): A conservative Democrat, Mike Barber has publicly tangled with police-reform advocates, and in one instance criticized the parenting skills of the mother of Jose Charles. He identifies public safety as the city’s most pressing issue in a voter guide produced by the League of Women Voters, adding, “We are beginning to feel the effects of a number of factors leading to higher gun availability on the streets. Opioid and other drug use, the continued erosion of school system effectiveness, [and] the challenges of supervision in economically challenged households are among a few.” From an economic standpoint, Barber is a typically a reliable vote for rezoning requests on the basis that expanding the tax base will allow the city to keep the property tax rate down. Among the incumbents, Barber is the most conservative and the most vulnerable, leading his nearest competitor by only six votes in the primary.
Michelle Kennedy: Among a slew of progressive change candidates, including four who serve on the city’s human relations commission, Kennedy came into the race with the strongest name recognition as executive director of the Interactive Resource Center, an outspoken advocate for poor people, and the News & Record’s 2016 Woman of the Year. That reputation likely boosted her fundraising ability, giving her the highest amount of cash on hand of any at-large candidate, as of the most recent campaign reporting cycle. Kennedy has pushed back against talk of moving services for poor people away from downtown — sure to be a significant issue in the next four years. As one supporter who expressed overall satisfaction with the direction of the city put it, Kennedy would be the “conscience” of the council.
Dave Wils: A Democratic Party activist and officer with the Guilford County Association of Educators, Dave Wils spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016. Along with Kennedy — a fellow Greensboro human relations commissioner — Wils’ fifth-place showing in the primary cements his reputation as a power player. And after Kennedy, Wils goes into the general election with the second-largest campaign war chest among the at-large candidates. His day job as a teacher at Grimsley High School provides the perfect metaphor for the politics of a progressive rising star. “I believe everybody does better when everybody does better,” Wils says in a professionally produced campaign ad featuring some of his students. “You know, we should care as much about the person who’s struggling to get by as we do about the person who’s making it just fine. That’s how I approach my classroom; that’s how I want to approach the city of Greensboro.”
Dianne Bellamy-Small: A former member of Greensboro City Council from 2003 to 2013, Dianne Bellamy-Small often found herself playing the role of lonely warrior as representative of District 1. If she wins one of the three at-large seats, she would be only the second African American after Johnson to win a citywide election since the early 1980s. A victory for Bellamy-Small could make for an awkward working relationship with Sharon Hightower, a former ally who unseated her in 2013, or she might turn out to be an effective amplifier for the needs of the historically disenfranchised east side. Bellamy-Small currently serves on the Guilford County School Board, and it’s not altogether clear why she would want to give up that seat, but she clearly feels a sense of responsibility for the city. “In the current political environment, it’s almost as if we don’t want honorable people to serve,” she told . “I believe I have the expertise to make a difference for this city. I have a track record of making sure the council addresses the needs of all the people, not just the downtown or the west side.”
District 1 (vote for 1)
Sharon Hightower (i): With two terms on city council under her belt, Sharon Hightower came through the primary with the highest poll numbers of any incumbent — 78.3 percent, against three challengers. District 1 voters in southeast Greensboro appear to be loyal to their representative, and this boring race contrasts with the drama in District 2, where there’s an open seat. Hightower has distinguished herself as the strongest voice for police accountability and transparency on the council, making her a model candidate for the progressive Democracy Greensboro, a PAC that has encouraged challengers in other districts. Hightower voted against giving police officers a 7.5 percent raise this year, arguing that it was insensitive to other city workers who toil at less celebrated labors, particularly the Greensboro City Workers Union.
Paula Ritter-Lipscomb: An intervention specialist with Guilford County Schools, Paula Ritter-Lipscomb said she always tells her students that they should “reach for the sky” and that they can have a voice. The realization that she needed to practice what she preaches led to her decision, after praying over it and consulting with her family, to run for city council. Ritter doesn’t necessarily take issue with her opponent’s position on police reform, but she’s said that transparency is “two-way street,” adding that community members should be willing to sit down and talk with officers while keeping an open mind. Relationship building is the key to everything, in Ritter-Lipscomb’s view, both among council members and between the district representative and her constituents. Once those relationships are in place, Ritter-Lipscomb said she’d be able to work effectively to address challenges like affordable housing, transportation and crime.
District 2 (vote for 1)
Goldie Wells (i): The daughter of legendary civil rights leader Golden Frinks, Goldie Wells holds an unassailable social-justice pedigree of her own. She led the fight to keep the White Street Landfill closed to household waste and the effort to open the Renaissance Community Co-op, and that was she served two terms on city council from 2005 to 2009. In July, Wells was appointed by city council to fill the unexpired term of Jamal Fox — leading to criticism from some that she’s too closely aligned with her colleagues on council. Her 53.9 percent showing might look like a mandate, but supporters of CJ Brinson, who was eliminated in the primary, are challenging her positions on public safety. Wells expressed concern during a candidate forum in August that the homicides in District 2 are “black on black,” a phrase that Black Lives Matter activists find offensive because it ignores the fact that most crime is committed within racial groups, justifies increased policing and distracts from racially biased policing. After the election, Wells rebuffed Brinson’s proposal for a community forum, and said she would be open to considering increased levels of policing and reinstating the gang unit.
Jim Kee: Developer Jim Kee has also previously represented District 2 on council, and received Wells’ backing in 2009. But over the years, as Wells is happy to point out, Kee’s leadership has engendered distrust from some northeast Greensboro residents. As the District 2 councilman in May 2011, Kee told a community meeting led by Wells that it appeared the city council was going to reopen the landfill and that he was focused on ensuring that adverse impacts to residents were minimized. Residents at the meeting made it abundantly clear they planned to fight the landfill and would not support any political compromises. Today, Kee is quick to remind people that his was one of five votes to keep the landfill closed once Nancy Vaughan was freed from a conflict of interest. In 2012, after attending meetings with a group of people who conceived of the plan to open a cooperative grocery in a derelict shopping center on Phillips Avenue, Kee threw his support behind a plan by realtor-politico Skip Alston to privately develop the shopping center. Today, Kee says he has a plan to stabilize the co-op. And in 2015, Kee, a newly-minted Republican, supported a plan by state Sen. Trudy Wade to restructure Greensboro elections. The federal court struck down the plan earlier this year, finding that it packed Democratic voters into districts to maximize Republican candidates’ success. Kee says his experience as a business person gives him an edge at promoting economic development and argues the city needs to reduce property taxes and fees to compete with Alamance County, while tacking to Wells’ left on the issue of police accountability.
District 3 (vote for 1)
Justin Outling (i): The first African-American representative of District 3, Justin Outling is a corporate lawyer who describes himself as progressive on social issues and conservative on fiscal issues. He authored a policy governing the release of police-worn body-camera video before it was canceled out by a restrictive state law filed by Rep. John Faircloth (R-Guilford). On police accountability issues, Outling tends to side with law enforcement, and has received the endorsement of the Greensboro Police Officers Association. Celebrating a 69.1 percent showing in the primary, Outling said that if elected to a second term he wants to work with Mayor Nancy Vaughan on a “cite and release” policy that allows low-level offenders to avoid being booked in jail.
Craig Martin: Public defender Craig Martin, who describes himself as a “progressive voice” who would bring “positive change” to the city, earned a rating of 4.9 out of 5 rating from voters at a conference held by the progressive political action committee Democracy Greensboro. Despite his efforts, Martin received only 21.8 percent of the vote in the Oct. 10 primary. Attempting to make up ground, Martin has been focused on a vote Outling took to prevent the city from awarding a healthcare management contract to Cigna Health Insurance that benefited competitor United Healthcare (which does business with Outling’s firm), despite the fact that an independent consultant found that going with Cigna would save the city $650,000.
Martin is also telling voters they shouldn’t be impressed by the police body-camera video policy authored by Outling. “It’s been stated that the city’s policy that they passed before the Faircloth bill was enacted is progressive,” Martin said. “In reality, it mirrors the Faircloth bill, and is restrictive and does not allow access to the video. The presumption of the policy is that the video is private; the presumption should be that it’s public.”
District 4 (vote for 1)
Nancy Hoffmann (i): Nancy Hoffmann’s poll workers greeted voters during the Oct. 10 primary holding signs with a red line across the words “tax increase.” The popular message underscores Hoffmann’s conviction that the city needs to encourage building to increase the tax base so the city won’t have to raise taxes to cover the cost of services. She also cites a need for more affordable housing. The tradeoff is that sometimes council has to approve unpopular rezoning requests. Hoffmann remains unrepentant about her support for a controversial rezoning that would have extended commercial development west from the Friendly Center, lamenting that the coveted Trader Joe’s shied away after neighbors mounted resistance. Despite some residents’ misgivings, Hoffmann came through the primary with two thirds of the vote, making the three-term councilwoman a formidable incumbent.
Gary Kenton: Gary Kenton was an early participant in the group that would become Democracy Greensboro, which coalesced as an effort to push local government to the left as the cataclysmic implications of the 2016 election were becoming clear. A retired communications professor, Kenton has argued that Hoffmann and other incumbents haven’t been transparent enough about policing, and he walked the walk by getting arrested in January during a civil disobedience action to demand that the city release the investigative file surrounding discipline of an officer in the Dejuan Yourse case. It’s not altogether clear that voters in District 4 — an area on the west side that is more affluent and white than the city as a whole — are all that appreciative. “I say it’s incumbent on all of us to look at our city and say it’s incumbent on people to look at our city and say that poverty, race and jobs — those are the main concerns, I think, on city council,” Kenton told voters at a forum last month. “It is incumbent on all of us to keep on raising those issues in every setting we’re in.”
District 5 (vote for 1)
Tony Wilkins (i): The most stunning outcome of the Oct. 10 primary was incumbent Tony Wilkins’ second-place showing behind challenger Tammi Thurm. As the only registered Republican on the nonpartisan council, Wilkins has attempted to put a brake on spending. Wilkins voted against the 2017-18 budget, expressing concern about the tax rate while declaring that District 5 was a “conservative district.” (Ironically, the vote placed him in the same camp with two of the council’s most left-leaning members, Sharon Hightower and Jamal Fox, who opposed it because it raised pay for police and firefighters while leaving other city workers behind.) He cast the lone vote against apologizing for the Greensboro Massacre in August, and opposes participatory budgeting. When staff was able to procure game tables approved by District 5 voters at 50 percent of projected costs, Wilkins persuaded fellow council members to reallocate the $10,000 surplus from participatory budgeting funds to Out of the Garden Project, which sends food home with K-12 students over the weekend and operates mobile markets in under-served areas across the city.
Tammi Thurm: An administrator at Hagan, Barrett & Langley law firm, Tammi Thurm has already disproved the conventional wisdom that District 5 is a conservative stronghold, outpolling incumbent Tony Wilkins in the primary, 46.0 percent to 42.6 percent. That doesn’t mean she’ll be a walk-on in the general election. Votes won by two other contenders who were eliminated in the primary likely skew conservative and favor Wilkins. But during the primary, Thurm dominated precincts west of Guilford College Road, and mostly split the vote elsewhere in the district. An adherent of the Jewish tradition of “healing the world,” Thurm favors tying business incentives to an average minimum salary for workers, using tax-increment financing for economic development and providing as much public access to police body-camera footage as legally permissible.
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Mayoral (vote for 1)
Jay Wagner: A moderate Republican first elected to city council in 2012, Jay Wagner has gradually watched political sentiment shift in favor of his stance in support of targeted investment in downtown High Point to rebuild the city’s tax base. An unabashed proponent of a planned downtown stadium conceived as a “catalyst project,” Wagner argues that now that the public, the business community and High Point University are on the same page, he’s the candidate that has the confidence of all three groups to get the project done. Wagner has the backing of a new political action committee organized as the political arm of the chamber of commerce that has raised $44,500. The committee is so formidable that it’s widely known in High Point as “the PAC.” Since the Guilford County Commission has so far shown reluctance to assist with financing for the project, Wagner argues the city needs should be prepared to go it alone. Voters signaled support for the stadium during the primary by giving Wagner and Bruce Davis, another pro-stadium candidate, a cumulative 72.5 percent of the vote, while eliminating stadium skeptic Jim Davis from the contest.
Bruce Davis: A daycare operator and former Democratic county commissioner, Bruce Davis concedes no ground as a stadium booster, pointing out that the idea for the project emerged from a convention & visitors bureau retreat he attended as chairman of the board. But he faults Wagner for alienating the county commission, arguing that he doesn’t understand its political culture. As mayor, Davis says he would repair the relationship between the city and the county, adding that he would be more independent of the business interests promoting the stadium than Wagner. “I’m a mustanger, more of a free spirit,” he said during a recent interview. “I’ve come up through the ranks.” Davis demonstrated during the primary that he enjoys strong support across the city by carrying a column of precincts from Deep River Recreation Center at the north end down to Allen Jay Recreation Center at the south end and claiming second place. Davis has also gotten involved in addressing the city’s spiraling violent crime challenge, showing up at community meetings where black residents questioned why the city manager and police chief weren’t there. And although he got off to a late fundraising start, he goes into the general election with a healthy balance and support from an array of players, including stadium proponent Sims Hinds and the wife of High Point University President Nido Qubein.
At-large (vote for up to 2)
Cindy Davis (i): A populist conservative, Cindy Davis typically opposes public investment on the grounds that unnecessary public spending places a burden on poor and elderly property owners. She was the only member of council to cast vote against spending $15 million for land acquisition and site design for the stadium in April. She voted against renaming a street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., but has earned a measure of respect from African-American constituents by showing up at community meetings. During the 2014 election, she dominated the at-large race, outpacing her nearest competitor by 3.4 percent. This time around, Davis’ stubborn opposition to the stadium — at least as a recipient of public funds without input from voters through a referendum — seems to have hit a headwind of public enthusiasm for the project. Primary voters gave Davis — the only incumbent in the race — third place, after the two candidates backed by the pro-stadium High Point Political Alliance. That means she has ground to make up in the general election if she wants to win one of the two at-large seats.
Britt Moore: A property manager whose primary focus is jobs, Moore served on city council from 2010 to 2014, as the city was recovering from the Great Recession. During his tenure, Moore largely resisted calls for public investment to revitalize downtown High Point. He wasn’t impressed by new urbanist Andres Duany’s proposal to diet North Main Street and use modified shipping containers to populate downtown with pop-up retail stores. But he’s come out as a supporter of the proposed downtown stadium, arguing that High Point can’t afford to pass up an opportunity that could potentially transform its fortunes. His experience and support for the project earned him the endorsement of the High Point Political Alliance. A pragmatist who’s not too wedded to his positions or convinced of his infallibility, Moore has said, “I’ve had up votes and down votes on different issues. The ultimate thing for me is be correct as much as I can. Even when votes don’t go my way, I still want things to go as best as they can.”
Don Scarborough: There’s only one candidate who mayoral contender Jay Wagner concedes might be a more passionate supporter of the stadium project, and that’s Don Scarborough, a retired senior vice president at High Point University who moved to the city as a widower and single father several years ago. “We need to be able to get to know each other in this city,” Scarborough said at a recent candidate forum. “We’ve got this group here, this group here, and never do we have an opportunity for all of us to get together and drink a Coke, eat popcorn, yell and scream, get jumping up and down and having fun. I haven’t seen much of that here in our town. This is a great opportunity for us. I’m behind it 100,000 — 456,000 percent. It is going to change this place… and we will reap the benefits from this stadium.” The High Point Political Alliance apparently appreciated Scarborough’s enthusiasm, and gave him their endorsement.
Mary Lou Andrews Blakeney: If she’d done nothing else, Mary Lou Andrews Blakeney would be more renowned than half the candidates on the ballot simply because as a 15-year-old at William Penn High School she led the effort to desegregate the Woolworth’s lunch counter in High Point in 1960. After retiring, she returned to her hometown and became an advocate for senior services, eventually winning an at-large seat in 2008, only to lose it to Britt Moore two years later. She supports the stadium, but addressing the needs of seniors is still her first priority. Several of the initiatives she supports to allow seniors to maintain their independence, from providing assistance for home repairs to improving public transportation, would benefit other struggling residents as well.
Ward 1 (vote for 1)
Jeff Golden (i): As chair of the community housing, neighborhood development & public safety committee, Jeff Golden is the point person for shepherding demolition orders for condemned properties through council. Answering a question from the High Point Regional Association of Realtors at a recent candidate forum, Golden responded that state law more than adequately protects property rights, and, if anything, he’d like the city to have more tools to address blight and properties that draw repeated police attention. “The property right seems to be protecting the one that leaves his property unattended more so than the one that was doing the right thing,” he said. “So we can’t just come in and demolish that property. We don’t have no authority to sell that property. We don’t have any authority to rehab it ourselves.” He added, “And if we have to do that through some kind of punitive source, I think I would be okay with that. In fact, we talked about that a little bit today, where we’ve got properties where police have come out there multiple times, and nothing changes. The owners are being contacted. Nothing changes. So we’re looking at maybe fining people to do the right thing.” Golden voted with the majority of council to authorize city funds to buy property for the planned stadium.
Willie H. Davis: This election marks the third match-up between Jeff Golden, the current representative of Ward 1, and Willie H. Davis, a driver-trainer with Murrow’s Transfer who chairs the Citizens Advisory Council. This year, Davis says he believes voters “are ready to see something new,” but it’s hard to figure out where he differs with Golden on jobs and affordable housing — the two major issues in this economically challenged ward. Count him as a skeptic on the stadium project. “I’m not at this point ready to say yes or no because I don’t know enough about the stadium. I don’t think the council is being transparent about the stadium. I don’t know who’s going to own the stadium. My problem with that… is if we are paying for that stadium, how are we going to get the tax revenue to cover the cost?”
Ward 2 (vote for 1)
Chris Williams (i): An employee of International Market Centers, the behemoth furniture showroom operator, Chris Williams’ adopted blight reduction as his top priority when he was elected to represent Ward 2 in 2014. Covering east-central High Point, Ward 2 includes some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the state. Williams voted in support of the stadium, although he hasn’t made it a focal point of his campaign. Williams told voters at a recent candidate forum that the city is on the right track, citing an increase in code enforcement officers from two to six and the advent of the Operation Inasmuch program, which has translated into home repairs for about 40 households through donated materials and volunteer labor. He said he’s worked closely with High Point Community Against Violence to address rising levels of violent crime. “I think as we work together as a city,” he said, “it will affect the blight, the crime and the hunger.”
David M. Bagley: Motivated by the desire to live close to his father, David Bagley moved from Durham to High Point in 2015. A former property developer, the 27-year-old candidate divested his holdings in April, when he decided to run for council, and has been knocking on doors since July. He highlights the closure of Food Lion on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive as a setback for food security in Ward 2, and proposes a massive investment in environmental remediation along the corridor so that the area can support industrial jobs again. Bagley is interested in a business incubator and job-training programs to promote workforce development, although he’s vague on where the funding would come from and what the city’s role should be. And he’s definitely a skeptic on the stadium project. “Yes, it’s gonna be a lot of jobs, but it’s low-wage jobs,” Bagley said during a recent interview. “If you’re gonna ask a gangbanger who’s selling rock on the corner to take a $9-per-hour job, he’s not going to go for it.”
Ward 3 (vote for 1)
Megan Longstreet: Megan Longstreet decided to enter politics when her 21-year-old daughter suffered a series of strokes and wound up in the hospital after being denied access to coverage through the Affordable Care Act and to Medicaid, and went without health insurance for 10 months. Longstreet’s daughter had already known she had lupus, but the strokes revealed that she also suffers from a rare condition called moyamoya that restricts blood flow to the brain. Her family’s struggles with healthcare motivated Longstreet — a home-schooling mom with a background in electrical engineering and pharmaceutical research — to get involved with the progressive group Indivisible High Point. As a council member, she would apply her concern about healthcare to tackling the opioid crisis. Canvassing Ward 3, which includes the poverty-challenged southwest quadrant, Longstreet said most voters want to talk about the opioid crisis, violence and food deserts instead of the stadium. Although initially skeptical, she said she now supports the project, mostly because it will create a gathering place for an otherwise disconnected city.
Monica Peters: Alyce Hill unseated Judy Mendenhall as representative for Ward 3 as part of a pro-revitalization slate that swept into office in 2014. After only one term, Hill decided to retire and has endorsed Monica Peters as her replacement. Peters helped launch We “Heart” High Point, a citizen initiative to promote revitalization when the previous council was denigrating or watering down core-city initiatives. She organized EbFest Music Festival and Makers Fair, an annual event since 2015. As a board member of the Southwest Renewal Foundation, Peters has been promoting a plan to build a greenway through the area. As a backer of the stadium, Peters is part of the slate endorsed by the High Point Political Alliance, but she’s also keen on repurposing the historic industrial building stock in the ward. “I am also very passionate about restoration of old factories and mills that we have scattered across Ward 3, where industries left back in the ’90s and early 2000s,” Peters said during a recent candidate forum. “And I have firsthand seen that a company that was displaced by the stadium has moved down English and has purchased the old Melrose Mill and is converting it into an awesome, really cool [live-work, cohabitation, co-work] space that will really encourage the entrepreneurial spirit that I think we need to attract millennials, increase economic growth and to make our city great again.”
Ward 4 (vote for 1)
Wesley Hudson: Construction company owner Wesley Hudson doesn’t hesitate to tell anyone he’s a big supporter of Jay Wagner, who currently represents Ward 4 on city council. With Wagner running for mayor, Hudson jumped at the chance to run for the open seat. He locked down 49.5 percent of the vote during the primary, making him the frontrunner in this contest. As an enthusiastic stadium supporter, Hudson enjoys the backing of the High Point Political Alliance. Hudson views the stadium, which would be built in Ward 4 near High Point Regional Hospital, as a solution to many of the city’s challenges. “I would say that the root of a lot of the issues we’re talking about tonight — hunger, violence, drugs, crime — the root is poverty,” he said at a recent candidate forum. “If you want to tackle the issue of poverty, you have to have money. You have to have revenue. A city cannot tackle a problem without resources. If you want to create a way out of poverty, the best way to empower people is to give them jobs, to give them hope.”
Jim Bronnert: A retired custom-car painter who describes himself as “older than dirt,” Jim Bronnert ran for the Ward 4 seat in 2014, but lost to Jay Wagner. At the time, he opposed a proposal to diet North Main Street — a relatively modest proposal to revitalize the core area. The stadium project has made a convert out of him. “I’m 100 percent supportive of it,” said Bronnert, who founded his neighborhood association in Oak View and sits on the Guilford County Parks & Recreation Commission. He cited the once-blighted Over-the-Rhine section of his native Cincinnati as an example of how strategic public investment can pay dividends. “You create a public meeting space, and the next thing you know you’ve got businesses, you’ve got everything happening,” he said. “I think it’s one of the neatest things. I go back to visit Cincinnati quite often. And when I got there and I see things happening and then I come back here and I don’t see anything, it’s discouraging.” A gritty realist, Bronnert cites “the blight, the crime and the heroin” as the three top priorities for the ward. Although he only received 25.6 percent of the vote, if he’s able to win over the supporters of Jody W. Kearns — who was eliminated in the primary — he might have a shot.
Ward 5 (vote for 1)
Chris Whitley: Having served on city council from 1992 to 2001 and then again from 2003 to 2012, Chris Whitley exemplifies the revolving-door quality of High Point politics. He gave up his seat in 2012 to make an unsuccessful bid for mayor, backing Jim Davis as his replacement. Davis’ unsuccessful bid for mayor this year — he was eliminated in the primary — cleared a path for Whitley to run again. It’s hard be opposed to the stadium in this election, but Whitley, a fiscal conservative who took 47.7 percent of the vote in the primary, comes pretty close. He praises High Point University President Nido Qubein for raising $50 million to support the project, but argues that the council had five years to put the project on the ballot as a bond referendum to give voters a say. Now that the city has purchased the land for the stadium, Whitley says the project needs to go forward, with or without the county’s support. He said he would scrutinize the project closely and make sure all the environmental assessments are done before the city takes on additional liability. “I was the finance chairman for basically seven years,” he says. “I know what needs to be done.”
Vic Jones: It’s a testament to how dramatically public opinion in High Point has shifted on the issue of revitalization that the stadium project is popular even in suburban Ward 5. Vic Jones, a Marine veteran and who owns a limousine service, trucking company and insurance company, earned the endorsement of the High Point Political Alliance through his energetic outreach to business leaders. Jones has also taken the pulse of the ward through an aggressive canvassing effort. “I was fully prepared to have some opposition to the catalyst project,” he said. “I thought there was gonna be a lot of naysayers. But I’m going to tell you out of a thousand people, there’s been one person. There was one gentleman who had some questions, but he wasn’t particularly negative…. I’m here to represent the interests of the people that live in my ward. So if one of a thousand — if I’m doing my math right, it’s 99.9 percent — believe this is good for their kids, they believe it’s good for jobs, they believe it’s good to take the burden off the tax base from those declining properties — it’s gonna be good for our economy.”
Ward 6 (vote for 1)
Jason Ewing (i): A realtor with Keller Williams, Jason Ewing was first elected to represent Ward 6 in the affluent northeast corner of the city in 2012. Now seeking his third term, Ewing is in the enviable position of being the only candidate on the ballot who is running unopposed. Once a skeptic of public investment in the core city, he’s coalesced with his colleagues on the current pro-revitalization council. At a recent candidate forum, Ewing championed the city council’s three strategic goals: increasing the population of millennials, aggressive code enforcement and creating a catalyst project. “My focus is to continue with those three because they’re not complete yet,” Ewing said. “They’re still in process, but I think it’s taking us in the right direction.”
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