District 3 contender dating councilman’s mother

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Tom Phillips, one of the four people currently being considered to replace Greensboro City Councilman Zack Matheny when he resigns on Tuesday, has a unique connection to the councilman: Phillips is dating his mother.

Geneal Matheny and Tom Phillips have been dating for a while now, Councilman Matheny said, but he doesn’t see it as a conflict of interest.

Phillips, who has served on city council for a total of 12 years including representing Matheny’s District 3, has said he doesn’t particularly want to serve. It’s more that he would be willing to fill out the term, and he has no intentions to run during the fall election.

The fact that Phillips is dating Geneal Matheny doesn’t negate his experience on council or his familiarity with District 3 and its people, Zack Matheny said. And the fact that Phillips wouldn’t run in the election makes him an even stronger candidate for the role, Councilman Matheny said.

“To me, he’s an easy pick because District 3 picked Tom,” the councilman said. “They voted him in various times. It’s five months. Let other people run for the office at election time.”

Phillips immediately preceded Matheny in representing the district. Matheny also said his mother couldn’t have picked a better person to be with.

The city council shouldn’t be picking favorites for the election, Matheny said, but should find a placeholder and let the voters choose their representative without giving someone a leg up on the race this fall.

But since the plan is to pick his replacement at the Tuesday city council meeting, Matheny said he does have some concerns about a potential conflict of interest that contender Justin Outling holds. Outling is a lawyer with Brooks Pierce law firm, the same firm that represents Downtown Greensboro Inc. Matheny is resigning from his council seat because he is in negotiations with DGI about the open CEO position, and said he is concerned that Outling also might have to recuse himself from voting on the city’s annual budget for a conflict of interest.

“That’s a concern,” Matheny said. “I’m stepping down because of a perceived conflict of interest, so this is a legitimate concern.”

Matheny added that he would like to spend his final days on council without conflict, and leave the position feeling positively about the city’s future as well as his own. He’s not even sure if he’ll be voting on the contenders for his seat, especially if there is a perceived conflict with him voting on Phillips or Outling.

“It’s almost like they should leave the seat open for five months,” Matheny said. “That might be easier.”