A picture of who would like to be considered to replace Councilman Zack Matheny is emerging.
Matheny, who represents District 3 in the north/central part of the city that includes a portion of downtown, announced yesterday that he will resign effective Tuesday. Since then, six people have formally expressed interest in the position, Councilman Tony Wilkins said this afternoon.
Below are the five people who have applied. George Hartzman, Justin Outling, Tom Phillips and Michael Picarelli confirmed with Triad City Beat that they’d like the position, but none were able to immediately answer questions about why.
Michael Picarelli, the former chair of the Guilford County Republican Party, is a governor-appointed commissioner to the North Carolina Human Relations Commission and the chair of the education committee for the Greensboro Human Relations Commission.
George Hartzman, a frequent council critic and blogger, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the 2013 election. He was a whistleblower at Wells Fargo and often attends council meetings to speak on financial matters. Hartzman said he will not run in the fall.
It is no surprise to see Phillips’ name: he served on city council several different times, including as the District 3 representative and later at large. He left council in 2007 and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011.
“Tom Phillips has said that he will fill in the six months but that he will not run for election to the seat,” Councilman Wilkins said.
Justin Outling, a business litigator for Brooks Pierce who is also a part of the SynerG young professionals group, isn’t a shoker, either. Outling currently chairs the Greensboro Minimum Housing Commission.
Councilman Wilkins, who was initially appointed to council himself when Trudy Wade resigned after winning a state Senate seat but has since been elected, takes issue with the quick turnaround.
“I’ve got a little bit of concern that we’re allowing six days for this replacement,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like a very long period of time. I wish they would at least go one more meeting before appointing a replacement.”
Wilkins said staff confirmed the timeline is legal, and that other council members don’t appear to have an issue with it. Wilkins, who said he is friends with some of the candidates and knows Picarelli very well, added that he will wait until he sees all of the applicants and their resumes before making up his mind.
People can continue to apply for consideration over the next several days. The city council will appoint a replacement until the end of Matheny’s term. Filing for city council begins next month but districts may be redrawn by a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly pushed by state Sen. Trudy Wade.
All five candidates voted in the last city council election, both the primary and the general. Greensboro City Council races are nonpartisan, but Justin Outling is the only one of the five who is a registered Democrat. Phillips and Hartzman are registered unaffiliated but consistently vote in Republican primaries, though Hartzman did vote in the 2008 Democratic primary. Picarelli, unsurprisingly, and Bryson are registered Republicans. The current city council leans left, but it is not clear that will have an impact on who is selected.
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